Jul 20, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT
New York Mets are coming to town – After dropping two of three against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and facing off with two of the best pitchers in baseball, the road will not get any easier for the Nats as the division rival New York Mets come to Washington. The Nats and Mets will square off in three games, finishing with an early afternoon 12:35 p.m. start on Wednesday.
What a few days at Nationals Park for those who like great pitching. The Nats faced Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on Saturday and Sunday, a pair with a combined four Cy Young awards. Now they will see Matt Harvey (8-6, 3.07), Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.14) and Noah Syndergaard (4-5, 3.05).
Harvey finished the first half with a 1.71 ERA in his last five starts, though he has walked nine total guys in his previous two outings. deGrom is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year and dominated the San Francisco Giants his last time out with just two hits allowed and 10 strikeouts in eight shutout innings. Syndergaard has a 1.71 ERA in the month of July and the Nats have never faced him.
The Nats and Mets have played two series against each other so far this season. The Mets took the first one at Nats Park in the season opener. The Nats then took three of four in New York in an early-May series. The Nats lead the season series 4-3 and both teams have scored 16 runs against each other.
Injury updates – The Nationals have plenty of players on the road to recovery and should get at least a few of them back this week. Jayson Werth will continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on Monday night, as reported by MLB.com. Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman have also started their minor league rehab games. Zimmerman will continue playing with Double-A Harrisburg on Monday night.
As for Rendon, he took batting practice at Nats Park on Sunday and looked very good. I thought there was a chance he would return Monday night against the Mets, as his injury is minor and the Nationals need any help they can get at this point. But Rendon packed up his bags and his bats and left the clubhouse yesterday. We’ll find out today from Matt Williams what’s next for him.
We should also get an update on Stephen Strasburg, who is supposed to throw a bullpen before they figure out when and where he can do a minor league rehab assignment. David Carpenter, like Strasburg, has been playing catch in the Nats’ outfield before games. He should be ready to take another step soon.
Denard Span is resting after receiving a cortisone shot in his back. He will likely begin taking swings some time this week.
Ramos, Desmond struggling – While the Nationals await reinforcements from the disabled list, they are having a tough time scoring runs with those who remain in the lineup. Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar have continued to play well, but Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond in particular have struggled.
Both Ramos and Desmond are searching for their first hits since the All-Star break and they are a combined 0 for their last 26. It’s hard to analyze a slump when guys are going up against Kershaw and Greinke, but still that is concerning.
Matt Williams explained Ramos’ recent troubles after Sunday’s game:
“I think for Willy anytime he’s swinging well he’s waiting for the baseball, he’s on top of the baseball and hitting strikes. He’s been swinging at balls just off the zone. Sliders down and fastballs up. We want to get him to zero in a little bit more. If he’s patient enough to get a good pitch to hit, he’s pretty good. Recently it hasn’t been that way. Hopefully it starts tomorrow.”
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Yunel Escobar 7/17 (and 7/18) vs. Dodgers – 3-for-5, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R.
Pitching game of the week: Max Scherzer 7/20 vs. Dodgers – 6 IP, ER, 7 H, BB, 8 SO. 98 pitches, 70 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Harper on how tough it was to face Zack Greinke:
I think he was okay. When you’re getting five to six inches off of the plate, you better win the game… For me, I don’t think he was very tough. He’s a great pitcher, he does what he does, but when you’re getting six inches off the plate it’s pretty tough to face him.
Tweet(s) of the week:
Harper and Max Scherzer on Friday night’s power outage…
My bad everybody..I knew I shouldn’t of used that blow dryer before the game! #shortage
— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) July 18, 2015
MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Gonzalez)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (TBA)
WED – 12:35 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Zimmermann)
THU – 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Fister)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Scherzer)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. at Pittsburgh Pirates (TBA)
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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