The Washington Nationals are cruising toward the National League East crown and aim to continue their winning pattern when they host the New Mets on Friday for the opener of their four-game series. Washington, which holds a 13 1/2-game lead over Miami, completed a 5-2 road trip with a 5-4, 11-inning victory over Houston on Thursday.
The Nationals have won 10 of their last 14 games and are thriving without MVP candidate Bryce Harper (knee), who has missed the last 11 contests. Even Ryan Zimmerman’s 1-for-20 funk over his last five contests hasn’t derailed Washington. New York, which has dropped nine of its last 11 games, likely lost 27-home run hitter Michael Conforto for the season on Thursday as he dislocated his left shoulder while swinging and missing at a pitch during a 3-2 loss to Arizona. “It turns your stomach,” Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters afterward. “Young player who’s having a tremendous year, really making a name for himself - to go down with an injury like that, it’s tough to watch.”
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), MASN2 (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Jacob deGrom (13-7, 3.49 ERA) vs. Nationals RH A.J. Cole (1-3, 5.32)
The 29-year-old deGrom has lost four of his last five outings and given up five runs in each of the last two - both losses. His next victory will match the career high he set in 2015 and he is just 14 strikeouts away from his career mark of 205, also accomplished two years ago. DeGrom is 4-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 10 career starts against Washington, including a 2-1 mark and 2.61 ERA in three turns this season.
Cole is being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to make his fourth start of the month for the Nationals after losing each of the first three. The 25-year-old has posted a 6.75 ERA in August while issuing eight walks and serving up four homers in just 16 innings. Cole is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against the Mets with 11 strikeouts in as many frames.
1. Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon, who went 2-for-3 on Thursday, is hitless in 16 career at-bats against deGrom.
2. New York RHP Jeurys Familia (arm) is expected to be activated for the series opener.
3. Washington RHP Max Scherzer (neck) threw off flat ground Thursday and possibly could return to start a game in Sunday’s doubleheader.
PREDICTION: Mets 3, Nationals 1