Tonight at 7:10, the Mets begin a three-game series at home against the first place Washington Nationals.The Nationals are currently 86-54, giving them an MLB-best .614 winning percentage and a 5.5 game lead over Atlanta. They have continued to play well, and after hitting a bit of a cold stretch towrds the end of August, they have bounced back and have gone 7-3 in their last ten.As you know, the Nationals have been a very good all-around team but their starting pitching has certainly been their biggest strength. It will continue to be, despite the loss of Stephen Strasburg. Although they are losing Strasburg, one of the best pitchers in baseball, for the season, they have John Lannan, an above average starter, coming into replace him. They still have an incredibly strong rotation led by Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, who will both face the Mets (along with Lannan) in this series.The Nationals offense has also been above average and has caught fire as a whole this month. Adam LaRoche is hitting .467 this month with six home runs. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are also hitting close to .400 and each have hit two home runs so far in September. The offense is certainly clicking right now and at the right time.The Nationals will be very hard to beat this week, even without Stephen Strasburg. They are firing on all cylinders right now. The pitching has been great and the offense has picked up the production recently as well. This is definitely going to be a very, very tough series for the Mets.Team ComparisonPitching MatchupsGame 1- Tonight 7:10Collin McHugh (11 IP, 121 ERA+, 11.0 K/BB)vs.Gio Gonzalez (175.1 IP, 134 ERA+, 2.94 K/BB)Game 2- Tuesday 7:10R.A. Dickey (198 IP, 146 ERA+, 4.33 K/BB)vs.Jordan Zimmermann (171.2 IP, 134 ERA+, 3.85 K/BB)Game 3- Wednesday 7:10Matt Harvey (47.1 IP, 127 ERA+, 2.65 K/BB)vs.John Lannan (13 IP, 119 ERA+, 1.0 K/BB)Notes
  • As a team, the Nationals are hitting an MLB-best .315 this month with 24 home runs, which is also the best in the majors this month. Their .960 team OPS is more than one hundred points higher than the Orioles, who are in second.
  • What's really scary about Washington right now is their health. After not having their core together almost all season, they are finally healthy and just in time for the end of the season.
  • John Lannan, Stephen Strasburg's replacement, isn't too shabby. In 130 career starts, he has a 3.99 ERA. He also walks only 3.4 batters per nine.
  • Let's go Mets!