No matter what the outcome of this series I still like the Nats going forward. The worst case scenario, the dreaded sweep, would only put the Nats a game out. The Nats would have guys trickling in, returning from injury, playing roughly as equal schedule as the Mets from here on out. Two games better? Yeah, I think they can do that.
Of course what would be best is for the Nats to crush the Mets' dreams right here and now with a sweep of their own. If you didn't know it, the Nats are kind of in the Mets' fans heads, much like the Braves were to the Nats fans for a couple years. The Mets have not fared well against the Nats during this window, with the Nats holding an enormous 41-15 advantage over the previous three years. 2015 stands at a more even 4-3 Nats edge right now, but Mets fans are expecting the shoe to drop at any minute. I'm not sure about the Mets team, but the Mets' fans would crumple over beating Harvey then DeGrom.
Unfortunately for the Nats they are struggling right now. It's not just Kershaw and Greinke. They are averaging under 3 runs a game in July, scoring 2 runs or fewer in 8 of 13 games. Chris Tillman, Anthony Delscafini, Manny Banuelos, old Jake Peavy and Matt Wisler have all had their turns putting in good performances versus the Nats. As a team they are hitting a woeful .207 / .272 / .329 for the month (and that's with Bryce still being All-Star good). Some current performances
Clint Robinson : .268 / .348 / .390
Danny Espinosa : .213 / .275 / .362, 14K in 13 games.
Party might be over for these two. Those aren't unworkable lines as the 7th/8th guy in the line-up but the Nats are scarily depending on these two. Why such dependence?
Michael Taylor : .191 / 224 / .255
Wilson Ramos : .167 / .205 / .238
Ian Desmond : .075 / .116 / .125
That makes the other OF spot be it denDekker (.200 / .250 / .533) or Moore (.241 / .241 / .379) worth considering. Werth is closest to returning, but remember that when Werth was here he was hitting just like the rest of these guys (.208 / .294 / .287). I know a lot of you think once Rendon comes back and we get rid of Desmond things will be ok, but there is more than just one hole out there right now.
The Nats are going to likely need killer starting performances and Scherzer just went. Gio is up tonight. He's been pretty good since June started, with only one bad outing, and a couple of solid ones. He's getting a bit more wild to be effective but the Mets aren't a particularly patient team. Joe Ross will likely take the mound in game 2. He's looked good down in AAA and we all remember what he did up in the majors. One thing you should remember though is those last two games were atypical for Ross. He's not a big K guy. If minor leaguers can get bat on his pitches, so should major leaguers. That doesn't mean he can't be very good on the mound though and if there's a team you want to make contact with your pitches it's the punchless Mets. ZNN will pitch game 3 looking to rebound from a blah outing in the lights-out game.
It's a good group. The Nats' starting pitching is very good remember. But it isn't the 1-2-3 I would have liked to see. So normally I wouldn't feel great about getting shutouts but it's the Mets. It took them 18 innings to score 3 runs. They've scored 2 or fewer runs 16 times in their last 26 games. (and in 7 of the other 10 they scored 3 or 4 runs). If there's a team that can be shutdown it's these guys.
Get ready for some tight baseball games this week.