Back in April when you looked ahead to this game, it appeared FS1 may have had a big game on its hands with two teams fighting for the NL East. Instead, both the Washington Nationals and New York Mets appear out of the MLB postseason picture for this middle game of three. Despite the standings, there will still be desire on both sides to win against their division rival.
In the first 12 games of this season series, the two teams have split down the middle, six games apiece. BETCRIS offers play-by-play betting odds for live sporting events every day! The user-friendly wagering interface on your smartphone provides an easy way to place bets on the go. Mobile betting lines are updated by the minute, so click here to start gambling on thrilling live action at BETCRIS!
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball– Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets
Date and Time: Saturday, August 25, 2018, 4:05 p.m. ET
Location: Citi Field, Flushing, NY
2018 MLB Betting Odds at BETCRIS: (Check Back Later)
Nationals vs. Mets 2018 MLB TV Coverage: FS1
It’s not exactly the dream matchup for these two teams. The game won’t be featuring Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard. Neither team has announced their rotation for this series, but Saturday figures to be Gio Gonzalez’s turn in the rotation for the Nationals. Zack Wheeler would be in line for the start for New York.
Gonzalez has been the third guy and the token lefty in the Washington rotation the last few years. The 32-year old southpaw is in his seventh season in the Nation’s Capital. Is run with the Nationals has been quite up-and-down, starting with a top-3 Cy Young Award finish in 2012 and going back and forth since.
Last year, Gonzalez was 15-9 with a 2.96 ERA, his best numbers since 2012, but this year, he’s 7-10 with a 4.51 ERA. If his ERA stays north of four and a half, it’ll be the second time in three years his ERA is that high.
Along with the higher ERA, Gonzalez has a 1.549 WHIP, the highest since his rookie year in the MLB. He’s doing well at limiting home runs, but he’s allowing more hits than usual and has a higher than normal walk rate, walking a batter every other inning.
It’s been a really rough go of it for Gonzalez of late, too. He’s failed to go five innings in three of his last four starts and is coming off an eight-run, 4.2 inning performance against the Marlins.
On the other side of this MLB matchup, Wheeler is developing into a solid mid-rotation arm. He’s 8-6 with a 3.63 ERA, tying him for the team lead in wins.
In 146.1 innings, Wheeler has record 146 strikeouts, walked just 47 and allowed just a dozen home runs. He’s got a 3.29 FIP, illustrating that with a better defense he’d likely have even better numbers. He’s also posting a strikeout to walk ratio nearly double that of Gonzalez.
Another stark difference from Gonzalez is how well Wheeler has thrown lately. He’s 6-0 in his last seven starts and the team is 7-1 in his last eight. He’s coming of a seven-inning, one-run performance against the Giants and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his last six starts.
The season has not gone according to plan for the Nationals as they continue to float around .500, unable to make up any real ground in the NL East race. This past week, Washington finally decided to pull the proverbial plug on the season, trading Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and Matt Adams to the Cardinals in moves that signaled the front office was ready to give up on 2018, finally.
The moves were probably overdue, but Washington still bulked at moving their biggest piece in Bryce Harper who was claimed by the Dodgers, but ultimately no deal could be made.
Perhaps the Dodgers weren’t willing to give the Nationals anything or maybe L.A. made the claim to block the Diamondbacks or someone else. Whatever the reason, the Nationals didn’t let him go and still have a good group of offensive players.
While Harper himself is having a bit of a down year, he’s been a much better hitter since his Home Run Derby performance. He’s hitting .352 with a 1.028 OPS since the break, hitting seven of his 30 homers and driving in 26.
Juan Soto continues to rake as he fights for the NL Rookie of the Year and Ryan Zimmerman has a .319/.405/.681 slash line since the break.
Those three, along with Adam Eaton, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon form a strong base to the lineup even without Murphy or Adams.
Any Relief Insight?
Sean Doolittle is still on the DL for the Nationals. The All-Star closer was lights and the key piece in the bullpen. Meanwhile, Ryan Madson is on the DL, too, while Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley were jettisoned from the team for various reasons.
Those four arms were significant pieces and depletes what would otherwise have been a very good bullpen.
Fortunately for Washington, Kelvin Herrera is now off the DL and can jump into the closer’s role. He hasn’t been great since joining the Nationals, giving up 23 hits, four homers, and eight walks in 18 innings, but he’s still a proven, veteran closer.
The same can be said about Greg Holland who St. Louis recently released. Holland’s tenure with the Cardinals was a mess, but he’s looked good in limited action so far in Washington. Those two at least help stabilize the pen, but the unit still misses Doolittle in the backend.
Meet the Mets
With injuries and trades, the Mets don’t exactly have the roster they expected to have at this point in the year when the season opened.
Asdrubal Cabrera was traded, Adrian Gonzalez didn’t pan out, while Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Nimmo, amongst several others, are sidelined.
With that, the lineup now features a .288 OBP Amed Rosario leading off, Wilmer Flores batting third and both Austin Jackson and Jose Bautista in the middle of the order. While the Mets have found a way to score this month, it’s not a lineup likely to have sustained offensive success. The overall numbers on the season bear that out.
The Mets have filled the roster with spare parts like Jackson and Bautista, giving Jose Reyes plenty of playing time and have called upon guys like Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith from the minors. Those two are having wildly different levels of success as Smith continues to show he’s a non-prospect while McNeil, at 26-years old, has surprised with a .326 average in 100 plate appearances.
Starters Turned Bullpen Arms
With the Mets season essentially over, they traded Jeurys Familia to the Athletics ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline. Without Familia, the closer’s role has fallen on the lap of Robert Gsellman, closer turned reliever.
Prior to last year, the talk in Flushing focused on the depth of the Mets starting pitching, pointing to both Gsellman and Seth Lugo as extra guys behind the great young starters they had in place. As it turned out both Gsellman and Lugo had to provide plenty of innings out of the rotation and neither produced all that well.
This baseball year, Mickey Calloway and company were committed to using both out of the pen to deepen the later innings. As it turns out, these two are now, really, the only two truly reliable arms standings for the Mets.
Lugo did make five starts earlier this year, but he’s pitched 38 times in relief and has a 2.96 ERA in 85 innings. Gsellman has a 3.67 ERA and seven saves. He’s also got six wins, just two behind the number he had last year in 22 starts.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets Free Picks
Neither teams is sending their best pitcher to the mound in this game, but Wheeler has been throwing the ball well most of the year and represents a solid mid-rotation arm. The Mets have also been playing good baseball over the last few weeks and even with the new name on the roster have scored more runs than any other National League team.
The Mets’ run of success isn’t something they can sustain, but they’re playing better than the Nationals right now. Washington also comes into this series having recently lost a couple players with the front office signaling it’s giving up on the team in the field. That could have a massive impact on clubhouse atmosphere which was already under question under Dave Martinez.
This is not a good time to be a Nats fan. While Washington still has the clearly better team than New York on paper, playing on the road could also take its toll.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets Pick: Bet the money line and take the Mets to get the win at home over the deflated Nationals.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets Score Prediction: Mets 6, Nationals 4
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