Yes, splitting with the Giants and Rays was nice, and sweeping the Pirates was cool, too, but the Nats are still 7.5 out. The series that really matters begins tomorrow. Over the next week, the Nationals will play the Mets, Phillies, Miami, and then one more random game with the Mets. The team could end that stretch within real striking distance of first place, or they could end it in last place. This might very well be the week that truly decides if the Nationals will be sellers at the deadline.
Friday, June 18: RHP Erick Fedde (4-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. LHP Joey Lucchesi (1-4, 5.18 ERA) | First pitch 7:05 pm EST
Erick Fedde made his return to the Nationals rotation last week, and he looked great. He pitched five innings and gave up no runs in a gem against one of the best offenses in the NL.
Lucchesi has looked pretty good in his last four starts. Despite his high ERA, he only has given up 3 runs in those games. He has not given up many runs recently, but he also has not gotten very deep into games. Only three Nationals have more than five at-bats against Lucchesi; of those three, Victor Robles had the most success, with three hits and a home run over six at-bats.
The trick for the Nationals will be to see the ball up in the zone. Lucchesi uses mostly a sinker and a curveball. If the team does not focus on getting the ball up, we may be struggling with ground-ball outs all day. This pitching matchup favors the Nationals, and it would be huge to start out this series with a win.
Saturday, June 19: Double Header Game 1: First Pitch 1:05 pm EST l Game 2: First Pitch 6:05 pm EST
The pitchers for these games are still listed as TBD, but we will likely see some combination of Ross and Lester for the Nats and Peterson and a potential bullpen game for the Mets. Again, both of these Nationals pitchers are entering these games after very good outings in their last game. Thankfully, due to the off day Thursday, we do not have to deal with a spot start or a bullpen game.
On the Mets’ side of things, Peterson has only gotten past the third inning in one of his last three starts, and in the other two, the DBacks and Orioles scored a total of nine runs against him. If that is the Peterson that the Nationals see, we should have no issues bringing home one win. There is a chance the Mets could send out a spot starter, but if it is a bullpen game, it will be a challenge. The Mets’ bullpen is the best in the NL East and the second best FIP of all the bullpens in the NL. It will be challenging for the Nationals to score against it, especially if they struggle with runners as they have for most of this year.
Sunday, June 20: LHP Patrick Corbin (4-5, 5.60 ERA) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (6-2, 2.12 ERA) l First Pitch 1:05 pm EST
Last time the Mets faced Patrick Corbin, they put up four runs in four innings and defeated the Nationals in Queens. This time he will be in DC, which is big news because his ERA is a full two runs better at home, and his last start in DC may have been his best all year.
On the other side, the Mets will send Taijuan Walker to the mound. He has been the steal of the offseason and somehow only had one offer. While that makes almost no sense, he is making every other team in baseball wish they made better decisions. The Nationals faced him in Queens, where he went seven innings, giving up no runs on three hits.
Thankfully, the Mets are missing Jacob DeGrom, but that does not mean we won’t be facing a very good pitcher from them. This se