Barring some miraculous comeback, the Nationals are close to going into the offseason asking what the heck went wrong. A Cy Young candidate in the rotation? Check. One of the most feared hitters in baseball? Check. Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper are two of the most recognizable names you will find in baseball, but the Nationals haven’t been able to parlay it into success on the baseball diamond. The Nats haven’t even really had a chance to choke anything away because they never had anything in 2018.
They’ve been playing behind the 8-ball all season long, as they’ve watched the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies steal the limelight in the National League East. With Bryce Harper on the roster, it feels like the Nats get more of the attention in the media, though. Once the Nationals season is over, the attention will immediately turn to where Harper will be playing next season. Despite a slow first-half, Harper has been swinging the stick better in the second-half and will demand a massive price tag in the open market.
The Mets are coming off a hard loss to the Giants yesterday afternoon at home. They got another gem out of Jacob deGrom, but the offense failed to show up. The ump behind the plate also gave deGrom a rotten deal with a horrendous ball call which ultimately resulted in a run for the Giants. Jason Vargas who is nothing more than a rotation filler will get the start for the Mets this evening. The frontend of the rotation is packed with talent, but the backend leaves a lot to be desired and it begins and ends with Vargas. The Nationals will look to Gio Gonzalez to get the job done Friday night. Get the rest of our writeup and free Nationals vs. Mets pick below.
Washington Nationals vs. N.Y. Mets Pick
Gio Gonzalez (7-10, 4.51 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (3-8, 7.67 ERA)
The Mets have had a combo of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom the last two days. Syndergaard got some run support in a win, but deGrom came out on the wrong side again. Now the Mets trot out Vargas and his 7.67 ERA, which may be one of the biggest jumps from the top to the bottom in a rotation. Vargas has struggled considerably in 2018 after a 4.16 ERA with the Royals a season ago.
He was a member of the 2015 Royals who won the World Series. The best year of his career came in 2014 when he posted a 3.71 ERA. With a World Series ring, Vargas is just collecting a paycheck at this point. He hasn’t exactly been doing his job effectively. The Nationals are hitting .282 with a .325 OBP against Vargas in 78 at-bats. This will actually be the first time he faces Harper in his career. He is hitting .252 after flirting with .210 at the All-Star break. He’s also brought his home run total up to 30, which is his most since he hit 42 in 2015.
Gio Gonzalez has been showing evidence of some wear and tear recently. He enters with a sky-high ERA of 8.04 in his previous three starts. Gio has allowed 15 hits and 13 runs in 8.2 innings at the office. He’s also delivered 6 walks during those two games against the Cards and Marlins. In three of his last four outings, he’s allowed 5 or more runs. The Mets are hitting .264 with a .338 OBP against Gonzalez in 242 at-bats. Despite failing to hit a beachball in the first-half and yesterday, the Mets have averaged 6.5 runs per game in their last sixteen games. I’d take a look at the OVER here.