WASHINGTON NATIONALS (39-26)
at NEW YORK METS (30-34)
First pitch: Thursday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Washington +105, New York -115, Total: 8.5
The Mets will be going for their sixth win in seven games when they host the Nationals on Thursday.
The Nationals are really struggling right now, but they know that they need to turn things around. This series against the Mets is going to be a big one, as Washington can’t allow New York to claw its way back into the mix in the NL East. The starters in this Thursday night matchup are set to be LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.91 ERA, 74 K) for the Nationals and RHP Robert Gsellman (5-3, 4.95 ERA, 48 K) for the Mets. Gonzalez just might be on his way to a career year for Washington, but Gsellman has been very disappointing for New York. Still, both of these guys are capable of pitching gems on Thursday. That means there is no truly clear advantage on the mound, which should make this one very exciting to watch. One trend that favors the Nationals in this game is the fact that they are 27-10 against the money line in night games this season. They’re also facing a Mets team that is 10-19 against the money line after two or more consecutive home games this season. New York is, however, facing a Washington team that is 1-10 against the money line when Gonzalez is pitching on the road with a total of 8.5 to 10 over the past two seasons.
The Nationals can use a victory on Thursday, and they’ll need a great performance from Gio Gonzalez in order to come away with it. The Mets exploded for nine runs on Wednesday, so Gonzalez will be going against a confident lineup here. The lefty should, however, be confident as well. Gonzalez has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 10 of his 13 starts this season. He also happens to have pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball against the Mets on Apr. 22. That game was at Citi Field, so it’s not like the conditions are going to be much different in this one. Offensively, both 2B Daniel Murphy (.339 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI) and 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.367 BA, 19 HR, 52 RBI) are players to keep an eye on in this one. Murphy loves to do damage against his former team, and Zimmerman has been good against Gsellman in his career. He is 3-for-5 against the righty, and he is obviously in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career. It wouldn’t be surprising if he went yard here.
If the Mets are going to beat the Nationals on Thursday then they will need Gsellman to be at his best against a potent Washington offense. The righty has been great in his past four starts, allowing three or fewer earned runs in each of those outings. If he can turn in a quality start against the Nationals then the Mets will have a chance in this one. Offensively, the Mets will be missing both 2B Neil Walker and OF Yoenis Cespedes in this one. That means that guys like OF Jay Bruce (.266 BA, 17 HR, 45 RBI) and OF Michael Conforto (.292 BA, 14 HR, 36 RBI) will need to step it up. Conforto has been dealing with a bad back himself, but he was available to pinch hit against the Cubs on Wednesday. That means he should be in the lineup for this one, and the Mets badly need him to produce.