Opposite dugout: Mets looking to change fortune against Nats before break

Thumbnail image for mets-logo-square.jpgManager: Terry Collins (7th season)

Record: 38-43

Last 10 games: 7-3

Who to watch: RF Jay Bruce (.261 with 20 HR, 55 RBIs), LF Yoenis Céspedes (.281/.347/.541 with 9 HR, 19 RBIs), 1B Lucas Duda (14 HR, 30 RBIs), RHP Jacob deGrom (8-3, 3.55 ERA, 125 strikeouts), RHP Addison Reed (2.59 ERA, 14 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 3-7

Pitching probables:

July 3: LHP Steven Matz vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 6:05 p.m., MASN2
July 4: RHP Seth Lugo vs. RHP Joe Ross, 11:05 a.m., MASN
July 5: RHP Jacob deGrom vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 7:05 p.m., MASN

Inside the Mets:

The Mets are set to play the Nationals for the fourth time in the first half of this season. These two teams will only meet in two three-game series after the All-Star break. Entering this three-game set in the nation's capital, the Mets are 3-7 in the previous 10 games against the Nats. For comparison, the Mets are 7-5 against the Braves, 6-7 against the Marlins and 6-3 against the Phillies so far this year. So if they wish to make a serious run for their third straight postseason appearance, using their limited opportunities in head-to-head competition to cut into the Nats' division lead might be a good start.

New York's seemingly endless bout with injuries and ailments has carried on into the final week of the season's first half. First baseman Lucas Duda battled a stomach illness over the weekend and left fielder Michael Conforto had to be placed on the 10-day disabled list Saturday with a bruised left hand. Picking up the slack offensively is right fielder Jay Bruce, who is hitting .261 with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs, and left fielder Yoenis Céspedes, who is slashing .292/.320/.472 since returning from the DL on June 10. Center fielder Curtis Granderson is only hitting .234, but has added 12 longballs and 34 RBIs.

Steven Matz will be the only lefty manager Terry Collins sends to the mound to start a game this series. Since returning from an elbow injury on June 10, Matz is 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four starts. He lone loss: against the Nationals on June 16 when he gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings. But he did throw seven shutout innings against the Marlins his last time out. Seth Lugo, who draws the early-morning holiday assignment, followed a similar path to start his season: The day after Matz returned from his elbow injury, Lugo did the same. Lugo is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in his four starts so far, and his only loss came against - you guessed it - the Nats. He gave up four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Nationals on June 17. Jacob deGrom, the only Mets starter to record a win against the Nats this season, takes the bump for Wednesday's finale. deGrom is 8-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 125 strikeouts on the year, and 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in three starts against the Nationals this season. Over his last four starts, deGrom is 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 31 whiffs, holding opposing batters to just a .139 average.

The Mets bullpen is just ahead of the last-place Nats 'pen in the National League with a 4.82 ERA. Bright spots, however, include setup lefty Jerry Blevins, who has posted a 2.60 ERA and 12 holds, and closer Addison Reed, who has a 2.59 ERA and 14 saves.

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