Opposite dugout: Mets look to make mark in NL East with weekend series in Washington

mets-logo-square.jpgManager: Terry Collins, fourth year
Record: 19-21
Last 10 games: 4-6
Who to watch: 2B Daniel Murphy (.317/.364/.460, 16 XBH, 17 RBIs, 9 SB); 3B David Wright (.282/.326/.376, 2 HR, 25 RBIs); LHP Jon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.07 WHIP); RHP Bartolo Colon (2-5, 5.84 ERA)
Season series vs. Nats: 0-3, 10 runs scored, 22 runs allowed

Pitching probables
May 16: Jon Niese vs. Tanner Roark, 7 p.m., MASN HD
May 17: Bartolo Colon vs. Gio Gonzalez, 4 p.m., MASN HD
May 18: Zack Wheeler vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 1:30 p.m., MASN HD

Series breakdown
The up-and-down Mets come to Washington with an opportunity to muddle a tight National League East even further.

Yes, it's still May, but the entire division is separated by just 4 1/2 games with New York 3 1/2 behind first-place Atlanta and two behind the second-place Nationals. An amazing weekend for the Mets could have the Nats passing the season's quarter mark with even more work to do.

New York is two games under .500 because of inconsistency. The Mets have won consecutive games six times, but also have three losing streaks of at least three games. They arrive in town having lost two in a row following a three-game winning streak.

Offensively, New York is tied for fifth in the National League in runs despite ranking second-last with a .229 average and third-last with 28 homers.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy has been the catalyst with a .317 average, an .823 OPS, 16 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and nine steals. Third baseman David Wright has produced with a team-best 25 RBIs despite lacking power so far. He has just two homers through 40 games.

Outfielder Curtis Granderson, the team's top offseason acquisition, got off to a horrible start with his new team, but is hitting .294 with four homers, 12 RBIs and a .917 OPS this month, raising his average to a still subpar .194.

The Mets' pitching has been mediocre overall with left-hander Jon Niese and right-hander Dillon Gee posting ERAs of 2.17 and 2.73, respectively, while the rest of the rotation has ERAs above 4.50.

The Nats get to see perhaps the three of the most intriguing arms in the rotation, going up against Niese, right-hander Bartolo Colon and right-hander Zack Wheeler, but they miss Gee.

Niese has gone 11 straight starts, dating to last season, without allowing more than three runs. But he is just 4-3 through seven starts this season.

Colon is having some troubles during his first year with the Mets. One season after finishing with a 2.65 ERA, the 41-year-old has allowed at least seven runs (six earned) in three of his eight starts for a 5.84 ERA.

Wheeler, 24, has been inconsistent in his first full season in the majors. He began with four quality starts in his first five outings. But he has since sandwiched two poor performances around six scoreless innings in a May 7 win over the Marlins. In the other two games, he allowed nine earned runs over 8 1/3 innings, giving him a 4.53 ERA on the season.

Overall, the Mets are 12th in the NL with a 3.90 ERA, 12th with 3.95 rotation ERA and ninth with a 3.80 bullpen ERA.

They do, however, make up for some of their shortcomings with steady defense. They own the second-best fielding percentage and have committed the second-fewest errors in the NL.

All of this comes together to paint a picture of an inconsistent club that looks like one of the division's best one day and a doormat the next. Which version will show up at Nats Park? Tune in to find out.

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