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New York Mets vs Washington Nationals Series Preview: Mets lose Michael Conforto ahead of four-game series

The Washington Nationals host the New York Mets for the first of 19 games in 18 days.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Mets (55-71) vs. Nationals (76-49) Series Info:

Game 1: Friday, Aug. 25 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, Aug. 26 at 4:05 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, Aug. 27 at 1:35 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 27 at 8:08 p.m. EST (ESPN/106.7)

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Jacob deGrom (13-7, 3.49 ERA) vs. A.J. Cole (1-3, 5.32)

Saturday: Robert Gsellman (5-5 5.65) vs. Gio Gonzalez (12-5, 2.39)

Sunday Game 1: TBA (Tommy Milone?) vs. Tanner Roark (10-8, 4.64)

Sunday Game 2: TBA (Seth Lugo?) vs. TBA (Erick Fedde?)

What to watch for:

Oliver Perez proving to be an effective reliever

After a rough start to the season that saw him allow a 6.48 ERA over his first 12 appearances, Oliver Perez has quietly settled in as an effective middle relief arm.

In his 27 games since, Perez owns a 1.86 ERA and has given up just one home run while striking out 26.

Perez likely won’t get many high-leverage innings down the stretch with Brandon Kintzler, Sean Doolittle, Matt Albers and the injured Ryan Madson ahead of him in the pecking order, but he’s certainly proving his worth to the Nationals organization.

Michael A. Taylor struggling since return from injury

Call it shaking off the rust, but Michael A. Taylor has been unable to find his groove since being activated off the disabled list Aug. 13.

Taylor’s hitting just .162 in 11 games in his return, putting pressure on the young outfielder to turn things around before the outfield depth becomes a lot deeper with Jayson Werth and Brian Goodwin eying returns of their own.

Taylor can hit down near the bottom of the order and work on his swing for now, but playing time down the stretch may be hard to come by if he can’t figure things out quickly.

Mets lose Michael Conforto to torn shoulder

Injuries have hit the Mets hard this season, but with their rebuild now underway All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto is a big piece of their future plans.

Those plans took a hit Thursday when an MRI revealed Conforto tore a posterior capsule in his shoulder on a swing against the Diamondbacks and may require surgery.

Conforto has been the best hitter on the team this year and losing him for any significant amount of time will severely hinder New York’s lineup.

Who to watch out for: Amed Rosario

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With all the injuries the Mets have endured, they’ve had to give plenty of backups and minor league players opportunities to prove themselves at the major league level.

One of those players is top prospect Amed Rosario, who made his major league debut at the beginning of August.

He’s heated up as of late (.314 batting average in his last 14 games), putting the pressure on Nats pitchers to handle the young right-hander.

In their words…

Eric Simon, Amazin’ Avenue

The Mets were a mediocre team that couldn't beat the Nationals, and then they traded Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, and Curtis Granderson. Four of their five "ace" starting pitchers are on the disabled list. They do have some nice young players who are either great or promising, so that's what fans are hanging their hats on now. Nothing in baseball is completely surprising, so it's not like I'd be totally shocked if the Mets won all four games. But by reasonable standards the Mets will probably win one game and should be quite pleased with themselves if they manage a split.