Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: LF Michael Conforto (26 HR, 121 hits); SS Amed Rosario (.260 with 133 hits, 21 SB); 1B Wilmer Flores (.267 with 11 HR, 51 RBIs); 3B Todd Frazier (84 hits, 58 RBIs); RHP Jacob deGrom (8-9, 1.78 ERA); LHP Steven Matz (5-11, 4.03 ERA); RHP Robert Gsellman (3.97 ERA, 11 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: 8-7
Sept. 20: LHP Jason Vargas (6-9) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (17-7); 7:05 p.m., MASN
Sept. 21: RHP Jacob deGrom (8-9) vs. RHP Joe Ross (0-0); 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 22: RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (9-15); 4:00 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 23: LHP Steven Matz (5-11) vs. RHP Erick Fedde (2-3); 1:35 p.m., MASN2
Inside the Mets:
For the second straight year, there will be no playoffs for the Mets. Despite having a handful of sharp, young hitters, and a formidable pitching staff, the Mets battled injuries all season long, and a fourth-place finish in the National League East is all but certain.
Offensively, it’s been a struggle all season. The Mets sit 28th in the majors with a .236 average, and several players have flirted with the Mendoza line all year. Despite their woes at the plate, the Mets have had some bright spots in the lineup. Shortstop Amed Rosario leads the club with 130 hits and his speed makes him a threat on the base paths. Rosario has 21 stolen bases, more than twice the total of his closest teammate. For power, the Mets feature left fielder Michael Conforto. The 25-year-old has 26 home runs, and is two away from setting a career high. Though he’s had a rough September, hitting just .207, first baseman Wilmer Flores can still provide a bit of pop. The 26-year-old is hitting .267 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs.
Jason Vargas starts tonight’s series opener. Vargas has been on a roll lately, winning four of his last five starts, and pitching to an ERA of 3.12 during that stretch. One of those wins came against the Nationals back on August 24. In that start, Vargas blanked the Nationals over six innings, and tallied eight strikeouts in the victory. Friday night, the Nationals must face NL Cy Young Award candidate Jacob deGrom. Don’t let the 8-9 record fool you: deGrom can pitch. The last time he faced the Nationals way back on April 16, his ERA following the start was 3.24. Since then, deGrom has lowered his ERA to 1.78, tops in the majors. He’s also tallied at least nine strikeouts in eight of his last nine starts. Following the decision to shut down starter Zack Wheeler for the season, rookie Corey Oswalt will start Saturday for the Mets. Oswalt is hoping this start goes a little better than the last time he faced the Nationals. On August 26, Oswalt lasted just an inning in relief, giving up six earned runs to seal a Mets 15-0 loss. In the series finale, Steven Matz will look to earn his first decision of September. Believe it or not, Matz started that 15-0 blowout loss, but allowed just one earned run over seven innings. In fact, Matz has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six straight starts.
In the bullpen, reliever Jeurys Familia began the season as the Mets closer, but was traded to Oakland near this year’s non-waiver trade deadline. With Familia on the West Coast, reliever Robert Gsellman has taken over the closer’s role. Gsellman is 6-2 on the year and has picked up 12 saves. He’s joined by right-handers Seth Lugo and Paul Sewald in the bullpen.