Aug. 9 MLB Preview — Washington Nationals (61-53) at New York Mets (59-56)

(Pete Alonso photo courtesy Brad Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Friday, Aug. 9, Citi Field, Queens, N.Y., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

Marcus Stroman makes his home debut in a high-pressure environment Friday night when the surging New York Mets open a three-game series crucial to their wild-card hopes against NL Cy Young Award hopeful Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.

Strasburg tries to bounce back from horrific outing in desert

Strasburg (14-5, 3.72 ERA) will make his second bid to become the National League’s first 15-game winner after being throttled last time out.

The right-hander was drilled for season worsts of nine runs and three homers in 4 2-3 innings Saturday when Washington (61-53) was routed 18-7 at Arizona. Strasburg had a seven-start winning streak snapped as he lost for only the second time in 12 decisions.

“They’ve tattooed me twice this year, so that seems to be obvious,” said Strasburg, who has served up seven of his 16 homers on the season to Arizona, to the Nationals’ official website. “It’s my job to mix up pitches, execute pitches, and it’s their job to put the barrel on the ball, and they did that tonight. I can’t really be too frustrated about it, but I do know that I have to go out there and be better next time. It’s the little things that can sometimes become big things if you don’t manage them well.”

Strasburg has managed the Mets well, especially at Citi Field. He is 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 12 career starts there, including 6-0 with a 2.44 ERA in the last nine with 69 strikeouts in 55 1-3 innings. The righty is 9-5 with a 2.82 ERA in 20 lifetime matchups with the NL East rivals and 1-0 with a 2.75 ERA in three starts this year.

The win came at Citi Field on April 4 when he struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-0 victory. Strasburg did not get a decision in the most recent matchup May 23, yielding three runs in seven innings of Washington’s 6-4 defeat.

Mets rookie slugger Pete Alonso is 2 for 8 with four strikeouts versus Strasburg, while Jeff McNeil is 3 for 6 with a triple.

The Nationals are 4-2 on their road trip following a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants, holding them to four runs in the series after a 4-1 victory Wednesday. Anthony Rendon has hammered Mets pitching this year, going 17 for 47 (.362) with three homers and seven doubles in 13 games.

Mets look to continue tear, climb up wild-card standings

Stroman (0-0, 6.23) made his Mets debut Saturday in Pittsburgh and had a middling performance, giving up three runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. The offense got him off the hook for a loss as New York (59-56) rallied for a 7-5 win, part of a stretch in which it has won six straight and 13 of 14 entering this contest.

“My command was a little iffy, but my body felt great,” said Stroman, a native of Long Island, N.Y., to Forbes. “Just need to make a few adjustments on my mechanics and I think I’ll be ready for my next one.

“The long layoff was tough but it’s not really an excuse. It’s never an excuse. I always expect much more out of myself.  Usually command certain pitches. I was falling behind in counts. Definitely make adjustments in my bullpen during the week and be better the next time out.”

Stroman is 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA in four starts against National League teams this year and will be facing Washington for the first time in his career.

The Mets are one-half game out of the second National League wild-card spot and two games out of the first one after sweeping four games from Miami. Alonso has homered in three straight games as he continues to rewrite the Mets rookie offensive records, and Michael Conforto went 6 for 12 with four homers and a double in the four-game set.

Alonso is hitting .283 (13 for 46) with four homers in 13 games versus Washington, and Conforto has gone deep three times in the season series.

Notable Trends

The Mets are:

  • 1-5 in their last six Friday games.
  • 1-8 in their last nine home games vs. Strasburg.

The Nationals are:

  • 43-11 in Strasburg’s last 54 starts vs. NL East teams.
  • 7-0 in their last seven games following an off day.
  • 21-6 in Strasburg’s last 27 road starts vs. above-.500 teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

OVER 7.5 runs (-115)

In some respects, the line grabbing the hook on the lower side below eight runs was a bit of a surprise, but adds to the confidence in taking the over for this contest. The over is 6-3 in Stroman’s last nine starts overall after hitting in his Mets debut in Pittsburgh and 4-1-2 in New York’s last seven contests.

While Strasburg has dominated the Mets at home, the over is 9-4-1 in his last 14 overall starts in this rivalry. The over is also 5-1 in the last six games between the teams at Citi Field and 7-2-2 in New York’s last 11 versus NL East teams. The over is 11-4-1 in Strasburg’s last 16 series openers.

****4-Star Pick****

Nationals ML (-125)

As hot as the Mets are, Strasburg has proven to be their Kryptonite — especially at Citi Field. But taking the Nationals is also a testament to Strasburg’s season-long consistency, save his last start, in addition to his strong track record at New York.

The right-hander has been the anchor of this rotation more than Max Scherzer this year as the Nationals staff ace is again on the injured list. This has been Strasburg’s time to shine as Washington fights for a playoff berth either as NL East champ or wild card, and the expectation is he bounces back in a place that has been historically good to him.

***3-Star Picks***

Nationals OVER 4 runs (Even)

Washington has scored at least four runs in all but one of the first six games on its current road swing and in nine of its last 10 overall. The Nationals have also plated four or more runs in nine of the 13 games between the teams. Additionally, there is always the lingering concern the Mets bullpen will have a meltdown like they did at various points before they caught fire and made this wild-card charge.

Nationals -0.5 runs first 5 innings (Even)

The head-to-head matchup offers few clues as the teams have split the 13 games this season at the five-inning mark (6-6-1). Though Strasburg is 1-2 at the midway point in his three matchups with the Mets, he is 6-3-2 in his last 11 overall — 6-1-2 when you take out the starts against the Diamondbacks.

The Mets are 9-4-1 during this 14-game surge, so picking against them requires some bravery, but Strasburg’s track record at Citi Field offers confidence as well as the expectation he is primed for a bounce-back start.

OVER 4 first 5 innings (-110)

This is more about the lack of a hook on this number than it is regarding the quality of pitchers, though the five-inning over is 3-1 in Stroman’s four starts against National League opponents after it hit in his Mets debut.

The over went 3-0-1 in New York’s four-game series versus Miami, another pitching-heavy outfit, and is 5-1-1 in its last seven overall. This will be close given the confidence in Strasburg to win this game for the Nationals, but the feeling is they nick a few runs of Stroman to help deliver this in a close one.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO 1st inning run (-131)

Strasburg has not given up a first-inning run in his last eight starts at Citi Field, while Stroman has not yielded one in his two home starts versus National League teams. This is a contrarian pick to a degree because the Mets have plated a first-inning run in seven consecutive games, but with Stroman likely to have some extra life on his pitches early in his home debut and Strasburg’s track record in Queens, a 0-0 first should take place.


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