Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Moneyline: WAS -105/NYM -105
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
Probable pitchers: Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.98 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (2-5, 3.72 ERA)
There's an Opening Day rematch set for the third game of this series, as the National League's last two Cy Young Award winners square off tonight at Citi Field.
Both teams probably wish they could rewind to that point in time, as it's been a highly disappointing campaign for the two NL East residents thus far. As bad as Mets fans think they have it, though, things have been worse for the Nationals, who come into this affair having dropped 15 of 22 to fall a season-worst 10 games below the .500 mark.
Fortunately for the Nats, they'll have their ace Scherzer on the hill aiming to secure the club's first win in this four-game set. While his numbers on the year look, well, very un-Scherzer like, he's still been good and enters this assignment in a groove.
The 34-year-old has produced a quality start in each of his last five outings, totaling 43 strikeouts over 33 innings (adding to his NL-leading total of 87 K's) within that span. That's definitely a sign that the normal Scherzer is re-emerging. Considering the opponent, another vintage performance could be on tap.
Scherzer has typically been a Met killer since arriving in our nation's capital four years ago. In 18 career starts (and one relief appearance) opposite the Mets, he's 10-5 to go with a shiny 2.59 ERA and 0.88 WHIP while compiling a splendid 167-28 K/BB ratio across 125 innings.
The Mets have already faced Scherzer twice this year, coming away victorious once. Even so, the six-time All-Star has still fared well, notching a 0.93 WHIP and collectively holding the Amazins to a .200 batting average in the two meetings.
New York will counter with its ace, deGrom, while shooting for its third win in a row following an embarrassing sweep sustained in Miami this past weekend.
A poor showing from deGrom his last time out is what got the Mets out to an ominous start in that series. He was shockingly hounded for a season-high seven runs (six earned) by the Marlins -- who decisively sport the worst offense in baseball -- in only five innings; this, after it appeared the former ninth-round draft pick was out of his early-season rut after logging three straight quality starts previously.
Of course, it's definitely concerning any time deGrom has an off day at the office but even more so when it comes at the hands of such a weak opponent. He'll be in position to turn it back around, however, as just like his counterpart, he, too, boasts a desirable track record against this evening's opponent.
DeGrom has taken on the Nationals 18 times in his six years in the big leagues, going 8-4 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. In his lone start versus the Nats this season at the onset of the campaign, deGrom delivered six scoreless innings and picked up 10 strikeouts.
Of note, two hitters that are regularly in the heart of Washington's batting order struggle mightily whenever deGrom is on the hill. That would be Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick, who are a combined 3-for-46 (.065) off the right-hander.
How I Would Bet This Game
If this was Scherzer and deGrom going at it in their usual rhythm, there's no question the under would be the bet here. But based on their relatively unspectacular seasons, it's possible one or the other gives up a few runs, which would be hard to overcome with such a low total of 6.5. Instead, I'd say to roll with Scherzer. The Nats need this game more and the former Detroit Tiger never disappoints in these clutch spots.