The Mets begin a three-game series with the Nationals, one that has major playoff implications for New York, tonight at 7:05 in Washington.The Mets, currently coming off a horrendous three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, desperately need a series win here. Not only do they need wins mentally, but this series is very important for the Mets playoff chances. If they blow it here in Washington and are swept, they may fall too far behind to ever catch up in the division. Plus, with the way some of the Wild Card contenders are playing right now, the Mets could find themselves in a hole there as well.The Nationals come into this series 18-13 since last meeting the Mets before the long stretch of interleague play began. Their lineup has been suspect this season, but have caught fire recently, in part thanks to Ian Desmond. Desmond, 26, is having the best power season of his career. Over his past 31 games, Desmond has nine home runs and 26 RBI. He is also second on the Nationals in stolen bases with 13 on the season. Desmond has been an overall threat that the Mets will have to look out for.On the pitching side, the Nationals have continued to dominate. They are still tops in the majors in ERA, WHIP, batting average against, and quality starts, among others. Luckily for the Mets, they won't have to face Stephen Strasburgh, who will go against Atlanta on Friday. However, they will still have to face some tough opposing pitchers for the Nats and it will certainly be a tough series for the Mets to take.Game 1- Tonight 7:05Jonathon Niese (7-4, 3.73 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.43 ERA)Game 2- Wednesday 7:05Chris Young (2-3, 4.28 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmerman (6-6, 2.48 ERA)Game 3- Thursday 12:35R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.66 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (12-4, 2.93 ERA)Notes:
  • Jason Bay will return to the Mets today after suffering a concussion on June 15 against the Reds. Bay has only played in 22 games this season.
  • While it's the Washington rotation that gets the attention, the bullpen isn;t too shabby either. They  have a top ten bullpen, led by Tyler Clippard, who has 14 saves this year and a 1.83 ERA.
  • Gio Gonzalez pitched very well to start the season, but has only been decent lately. The lefty has a 4.11 ERA over his past eight starts, compared to a 2.04 mark the rest of the season.
  • Bryce Harper has struggled of late. Over his last 25 games, Harper is hitting just .229 with one home run and six RBI.
  • Ian Desmond suffered an oblique injury in this weekend's series against the Marlins, but will probably be ready to go for this series.