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Heading into the weekend series, the Nationals have won 13 of their last 19 games despite the injuries continuing to stack up. Better yet for Washington, they’ve won nine of 12 against the Mets. Their record is even better than that going back to the beginning of 2016.
While the trends generally favor the Nationals, the Mets have struggled mightily. With Neil Walker, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and other moving teams, New York is in free fall.
Overall, the Mets have now lost four of five, nine of 11, and 15 of 21. The rotation has a 5.05 ERA and the bullpen is without many viable options. While the offense has some exciting young players like Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, its far less potent than it was with the likes of Bruce, Walker and Lucas Duda.
The Mets have yet to formally announce their starter for Sunday night, but it looks as though Tommy Milone will be getting the start.
Milone was just activated for the start on August 22 and lasted just 4.2 innings, allowing six runs—including a couple homers—against the Diamondbacks.
The journeyman southpaw is a career 45-36 pitcher with a 4.35 ERA in parts of three seasons at the big-league level. He, however, has been going in the wrong direction for quite some time. He pitched to a 5.71 ERA in 19 games for the Twins last year and has an 8.12 ERA here in 2017.
Milone has spent the year split between Milwaukee and New York. While with the Mets, he’s allowed 21 runs—19 earned—in just 16.2 innings of work.
The matchup doesn’t look good for New York. The only positive for the Mets is Milone’s history against Washington. The former National has faced D.C. once and went eight scoreless, allowing two hits in that effort.
Fortunately for New York, they’re matchup for Sunday isn’t against one of the National’s aces. Instead, Tanner Roark gets the start.
Roark has always been an underrated arm and has a good history against the Mets. He’s 6-2 with a 2.61 career ERA against New York. Overall, however, the right-hander is 9-8 with a 4.70 ERA and 1.370 WHIP in his 24 starts.
Roark has shown some signs of turning things around lately. He’s pitched three quality starts in August. A quality start—given the Nats’ offense—is more than enough to get the job done.
On the downside for Washington and Roark, home runs have been an issue.
We’ve already seen that the Nationals have dominated the Mets and that was while New York’s offense still intact and before the Nats beefed up their pen.
Now, Washington’s less vulnerable at the end of the game. Ryan Madson is sidelined right now, but Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley and Matt Albers make for a solid backend.
With that, Roark only needs to go six solid innings, putting less pressure on him to perform. Meanwhile, given Milone’s struggles, the National’s offense should provide Washington with a sizeable early lead for the pen to hold.
While the National’s pen is better, the Mets is not. They traded away Addison Reed and replaced him with A.J. Ramos. Overall, that’s probably an even swap—or at least enough of one for a losing team. The support behind Ramos remains an issue even with Juerys Familia coming back.
Roark is throwing the ball well enough, even in a down season, to be the better starter in a matchup with Milone. With him throwing better lately, the difference becomes even bigger.
Meanwhile, Washington is one of the best offenses in the game even with Bryce Harper now on the sidelines. Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon still give the team a potent middle of the order while the fill-in players for Washington are all stepping in.
Bank on an early lead for Washington as they roll to an easy win in the second game of the double-header. While both teams are riddled with injuries and have a number of fill-in players getting time, the Nats have the superior depth.
MLB Odds: Nationals 7, Mets 2
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