Opposite dugout: Mets still have chance at winning record as they face Nats for last time in '14

mets-logo-square.jpgManager: Terry Collins, fourth year Record: 76-80 Last 10 games: 5-5 Who to watch: 1B Lucas Duda (.254/.354/.479, 26 doubles, 28 HR, 86 RBIs); 2B Daniel Murphy (.295/.339/.410, 35 doubles, 9 HR, 55 RBIs); LHP Jon Niese (9-11, 3.50 ERA, 1.29 WHIP); RHP Bartolo Colon (14-12, 4.02 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats: 3-13, 43 runs scored, 84 runs allowed Pitching probables Sept. 23: Bartolo Colon vs. Tanner Roark, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD Sept. 24: Dillon Gee vs. Gio Gonzalez, 7 p.m., MASN HD Sept. 25: Jon Niese vs. Doug Fister, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD Series breakdown The Mets have already been eliminated from the playoff race, but they do have something to play for the last week of the regular season. At 76-80 with six games remaining, New York still has a chance to record its first winning season since 2008. The Mets must win all six to finish over .500 or they can go 5-1 to end exactly even. To get there, they'll need to win at least two of three games against the team that has owned them like no other in recent seasons, the Nationals. The Mets arrive at Nats Park having been outscored 84-43 in going 3-13 against Washington this year. That's their most losses against any opponent in a single season since 2012... when they went 4-14 against the Nats. Overall, New York has lost 18 of its last 21 meetings with Washington. But the Mets are again playing well as they prepare to play the Nats. Twelve days ago, the Mets had won seven of eight as the Nats got to Citi Field, but proceeded to lose three of four to the National League East champs. This time, the Mets are coming off a road sweep of the Braves. But the Nats also come in playing well, having won four straight and eight of nine. New York has the stats befitting a .500 club, as it's directly in the middle of the NL rankings by standing eighth in runs (609) and ERA (3.51). The Mets played well in both areas at Atlanta, as they outscored the Braves 19-4 over the last three games. Offensively, the Mets don't rank highly in the most watched categories, tying for 10th in the NL with 121 homers, standing 11th with a .673 OPS and 13th with a .239 average. But they claw for their runs by ranking fifth in doubles, third in walks and fourth in steals. First baseman Lucas Duda (.832 OPS) and second baseman Daniel Murphy (.749 OPS) remain the Mets' top performers at the plate. Duda is third in the NL with 28 homers and tied for eighth with 86 RBIs. Murphy is ninth with 169 hits and a .295 average, while leading the Mets with 35 doubles. Center fielder Curtis Granderson has contributed 26 doubles, 19 homers and 62 RBIs while batting .225 in his first season with the Mets. Catcher Anthony Recker has also wielded a hot bat of late, batting .444 with three homers and nine RBIs in six games since Aug. 31. On the mound, the Mets rank fifth with a 3.23 bullpen ERA and eighth with a 3.64 starters' ERA this season. This month, they rank fifth in the NL with a 3.51 ERA. The Nationals won't have to face NL Rookie of the Year favorite Jacob deGrom for the third straight series against the Mets. But that doesn't mean the Nats are getting a break with three solid starters upcoming. Right-hander Bartolo Colon (14-12, 4.02 ERA) takes on Tanner Roark in tonight's series opener. The 41-year-old held the Marlins to one run in 7 2/3 innings one week ago in his last start. But that came one outing after the Nats blasted Colon for six runs (five earned) in three innings on Sept. 11. Right-hander Dillon Gee (7-8, 3.88 ERA) faces Gio Gonzalez on Wednesday. Gee has lacked consistency since going 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in his first nine starts of the season. The 28-year-old is 3-7 with a 4.95 ERA in his last 12 starts. However, he did beat the Nats the last time he faced them, taking the win with three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 12. Left-hander Jon Niese (9-11, 3.50 ERA) pitches against Doug Fister in the teams' last matchup of the season. Niese will be looking for his fourth straight quality start and eighth in nine outings. The 27-year-old has pitched especially well over his last three starts, allowing five runs in 21 innings for a 2.14 ERA. That includes two earned runs in seven innings in a loss to the Nats on Sept. 14. So even though the Mets' season has an expiration date less than a week from now, they still have goals to accomplish. And with the way the Nats have thrown them around in recent years, playing a role in keeping Washington from the best record in the NL could likely be counted among them.

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