Game time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Venue: Citi Field, Flushing, NY
Where to watch: MASN, WPIX
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Mets -220, Nationals +180
Season record (entering Thursday)
Nationals: 54-71 (4th place, NL East)
Mets: 61-65 (3rd place, NL East)
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Nationals - Mets preview and analysis
Recent form (entering Thursday)
Nationals: 4-6 in last 10
Mets: 2-8 in last 10
We did it. It took a while, but it happened.
We have found the ultimate moment to describe what in the world has happened to the New York Mets.
Of course it was courtesy of Javier Baez, because why wouldn’t it be
? It makes me feel good knowing that professional baseball players have moments that remind me I can’t play baseball because I would be the exact same way.
The Mets are just … the Mets. And going from first place to a nosedive down the National League East standings has been an excruciating one for the blue and orange group in New York. They’ll try to get back on track with the start of a three-game weekend series against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field starting Friday.
New York is wrapping up a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, a sequence the Mets would just like the move on from. After getting shut out 8-0 on Tuesday, the Mets took a 2-1 lead into the seventh on Wednesday until red-hot Brandon Crawford delivered with a two-RBI double in the top of the seventh to give the Giants the win.
Once again, as has been the case for the Mets all season, the offense couldn’t deliver when needed. Taijuan Walker gave the Mets six strong innings and three strikeouts, but the Mets only scored two runs on 10 hits. Not to mention manager Luis Rojas going away from Walker after those six solid innings was not his best choice, but that’s just a microcosm of the problem.
It got so bad, Mets fans were chanting “Fire Rojas!” Maybe that’s the bad part.
“The fans are always shouting for all the guys, different things,” Rojas said
. “You’re always hearing it, but there’s no reaction. They can say whatever. This is baseball. We have a very passionate fan base, and they’re going to do those things. That’s just OK. It’s part of the game. It’s part of baseball here in New York, how passionate our fans are. I have nothing to say about it.”
Pete Alonso had a chance to win the game with the bases loaded, but failed to bring anyone home. The Mets have lost 14 of 19 since losing first place in the National League East (now trailing the Atlanta Braves by seven games, and even the Philadelphia Phillies have since passed them). The pitching staff can only do so much, even if Jacob deGrom does return before the season ends.
New York will turn to Carlos Carrasco for the series finale against the Giants, then give the ball to Rich Hill for the opener against the Nationals. Since coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays, the veteran left-hander has made six starts but to only one decision; a loss Aug. 21 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hill has allowed at least three earned runs in four of his starts with the Mets, which doesn’t bode well for the 10th best team ERA in the league.
The Nationals have come to accept the fact they’re in doom-and-gloom territory, but are taking it in stride. Washington will wrap up a three-game set with the Miami Marlins on Thursday night before heading to Flushing.
Washington reached arguably its best moment of the season last week when sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays in a two-game set at Nationals Park. They followed that with winning the first of three against the Milwaukee Brewers, in Milwaukee. They lost the final two, because it’s the Brewers, but you get the point.
Josh Bell cranked his 21st home run of the season in the 4-3 loss to Miami on Wednesday. Yadiel Hernandez also hit a homer in the seventh to give Washington a 3-2 lead, but the Marlins rallied to win it in extra innings off the Nationals bullpen.
The rebuild in Washington has seen some dark moments, but it helps to get the likes of Josiah Gray giving six strong innings with seven strikeouts. Moving on from Trea Turner, Josh Harrison and Max Scherzer has been rough since the trade deadline, but the Nationals keep finding more to be excited about.
The Nationals are expected to go with right-hander Paolo Espino on Friday. Espino is 3-4 with a 4.28 ERA and a WHIP of 1.20. His last start was Saturday against the Brewers, lasting only 4.1 IP and allowing three earned runs in the process.
By the time Sunday’s game rolls around, this may be the end of the Mets as we know it this season. It’s honestly surprising they’re opening as heavy favorites. This may be the perfect time to go big on the underdog. Nationals win 7-4.
The Mets are a surprising 10-3 (+2.6 games on the moneyline) when they’re favored by -200 or more. New York is 6-17 in August, however.
The Nationals are 4-14 (-5.9) when they’re an underdog between +175 and +250.
Players to watch
Nationals: Star outfielder Juan Soto has collected a hit in five of his last seven games. If this was a time to get back to driving in runs, it’d be Friday. Soto has only five RBI in that stretch, but he’s absolutely getting on base by way of the BB gun. Soto has drawn 12 walks dating back to Aug. 15.
Mets: Could this be the time Francisco Lindor gets things going? He’s hitless entering Thursday since returning from the IL, having previously played on July 16. The free agency splash the Mets were hoping for has not arrived to this point.
Lane Thomas (R) CF
Alcides Escobar (R) SS
Juan Soto (L) RF
Josh Bell (S) 1B
Yadiel Hernandez (L) LF
Carter Kieboom (R) 3B
Luis Garcia (L) 2B
Riley Adams (R) C
Paolo Espino (R) P
Brandon Nimmo (L) CF
Pete Alonso (R) 1B
Jeff McNeil (L) 2B
Michael Conforto (L) RF
Javier Baez (R) SS
Dominic Smith (L) LF
Jonathan Villar (S) 3B
Patrick Mazeika (L) C
Rich Hill (L) P
Probable starting pitchers: Espino (WAS) vs. Hill (NYM)
Batting average: Juan Soto (.300)
Hits: Juan Soto (114)
Home runs: Josh Bell (21)
RBI: Josh Bell (68)
Stolen bases: Victor Robles (8)
Wins: Patrick Corbin (7)
Saves: Brad Hand (21)
ERA: Patrick Corbin (5.82)
Batting average: Pete Alonso (.259)
Hits: Pete Alonso (110)
Home runs: Pete Alonso (28)
RBI: Pete Alonso (73)
Stolen bases: Jonathan Villar (10)
Wins: Marcus Stroman (9)
Saves: Edwin Diaz (25)
ERA: Marcus Stroman (2.85)
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