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Washington Nationals Series Preview: The New York Mets aren’t being very Mets-y

After a nine-game west coast trip, the Nationals head home to take on the surging Mets who top the NL East in the early going...

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that wasn’t how the Washington Nationals were hoping to end their trip to the West Coast. On Sunday, Anthony Rendon’s walk-off single capped a dramatic comeback for the Los Angeles Angels to steal the series win in the three-game set.

If you’re looking for good news though, then the offensive production lately will provide that.

During the course of the Nats’ nine-game road trip, as a team, they slashed a productive .328/.381/.477 with a 147 wRC+, the second-best figure in the majors over that span.

Obviously, take into account Coors in the slash line — wRC+ already accounts for Park Factor — but if they can at least keep some of that production ticking over into this next homestand, it will be a huge boost to a lineup that had been meager until that point.

Now if only they could do something about the rotation, the Nats might be onto something...

With the Nats back on Half Street this week, they face the New York Mets for the first time since the opening series of the season, a team who have only gone from strength to strength.

The Mets currently top the National League East at 20-10, the second-best record in the senior circuit behind the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 19-8, and have looked damn impressive in doing so.

That’s not very Mets-y. At least, it’s not yet. Check back in August when the Atlanta Braves are no doubt surging back into contention to see if they crumble as they have in recent seasons or if things are actually different in Queens this time around.

In the meantime, here’s what to expect from Nationals Park ahead of the three-game series...

The schedule

  • Game One: Tuesday, May 10th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Two: Wednesday, May 11th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Three: Thursday, May 12th, 1:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out-of-market only), Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Probable Pitchers

  • Game One: Patrick Corbin (0-5, 7.16 ERA) vs Carlos Carrasco (2-1, 3.30 ERA)
  • Game Two: Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 8.56 ERA) vs Tylor Megill (4-1, 2.43 ERA)
  • Game Three: Joan Adon (1-5, 6.99 ERA) vs Taijuan Walker (0-0, 4.91 ERA)

Who’s hot?

Keibert Ruiz: We’ve had a lot of hitters in this section who shone on the recent road trip, so let’s take a look at a player who may have been flying a bit under-the-radar lately in Ruiz.

Ruiz had a strong first series against the Mets before falling into a bit of a lull. In the past couple of weeks though, the young backstop has bounced back with a solid .297/.381/.459 slash line, 144 wRC+, three doubles, and a home run since April 24th.

Tylor Megill: Max and Jacob who? Megill, who filled in for Jacob deGrom on Opening Day against the Nationals continues to impress in the Mets’ rotation so far this season.

In five starts since his three-hit, five-inning scoreless effort against the Nats, the right-hander has gone 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA and 2.72 FIP while striking out 30 and walking just eight batters. One of those outings started off the Mets’ recent combined no-hitter too.

Not bad for someone who wouldn’t have been in the rotation before deGrom’s injury.

Who’s not?

Josh Rogers: After Aaron Sanchez usurped him of his rotation spot, the move to the bullpen hasn’t been kind to Rogers, who is being relied upon to get lefties out as the only southpaw in the bullpen.

In five games as a reliever, Rogers is sporting a 6.23 ERA and 4.92 FIP through 4.1 innings of work, however, he’s allowed at least one run in his two previous outings, both of which came on the team’s recent road trip. Reliever ERAs are volatile though, so if he can put in a couple of scoreless outings, things should look a bit better, but recent trends don’t necessarily bode well.

Francisco Lindor: I’m not just picking on teams’ shortstops, honestly! Despite a solid offensive season to this point, Lindor has been scuffling at the dish of late for the Mets.

Since April 25th, the shortstop has a disappointing .151/.211/.245 slash line and 42 wRC+ in 57 plate appearances. Although his walks are down, there’s reason to believe he will bounce back with an unsustainably low .175 BABIP and a decent 31.7% hard-hit rate in that stretch, so the Nationals will need to be wary that doesn’t happen against them in this series.

From the opposing dugout

Check out some of the top Mets storylines from our friends at Amazin’ Avenue...

One more thing to watch

Remember that .328/.381/.477 slash line from the nine-game west coast trip we mentioned at the top of the piece, something you may have glazed over was that the slugging percentage was probably lower than you’d expect, especially for a line with a .328 average.

If you look at the team’s ISO in that stretch, which is slugging minus average to look at how much power a team is hitting for, it was only .149, tied for 12th in the majors in that span.

So during a stretch where they were one of the better offensive teams in the league, the Nats still weren’t hitting for much power.

Sunday was a prime example of this as they recorded 11 base hits, all of them singles, meaning they only scored four runs.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez was asked about the lack of extra-base hits in Sunday’s series finale against the Angels, but instead focused on failed execution elsewhere.

“The couple times we got guys on third base with less than two outs, we got to move the baseball there and get those guys in,” Martinez said.

“We score those two runs, it’s a different ninth inning. So, we just got to focus on just moving the baseball in those situations and drive the guys in.”

The lack of power wasn’t just an issue on the road trip, it’s been there all season.

Entering Monday’s slate of games, the Nationals had the worst ISO in the NL at .112, and ahead of only the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals in the entire league.

In today’s game, singles and smallball just won’t get it done. The Nationals are going to need more hits for extra bases if they’re going to keep up the recent surge at the plate.

Series Preview Trivia

Last series’ trivia question: With Anthony Rendon’s first game against the Nationals in his career, how many times did he and Trea Turner regular-season starts did they make on the left side of the infield together in their career? a) 336 b) 360 c) 399 d) 431

Answer: 336

Hopefully, you all know the drill now. Here’s the trivia question for this series against the Mets...

Last week, the Mets managed to come back from six runs down in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies, matching the feat the Nationals accomplished against the Mets in 2019. But who were the two starting pitchers from that 11-10 win for the Nationals? If that’s too easy for you, bonus question, who was the winning pitcher for the Nats?