Team Record: 23-15
Mets up next - It took nearly six weeks into the 2016 season, but soon we will get our first matchup between the Nats and Mets, the two teams that duked it out for NL East supremacy last year and the two most likely to be competing for the crown this September.
Both clubs are off to good starts overall and both are coming off losses. The Nats are 23-15, but have lost two straight, while the 21-16 Mets just got swept in four games by the Colorado Rockies and have lost five of six overall.
I'll go further in depth on the matchup tomorrow morning, but here are some stats that show how the Nats and Mets compare at this point:
Runs scored: Nats - 161 (14th in MLB), Mets - 152 (20th)
Team OPS: Nats - .729 (15th), Mets - .746 (9th)
Homers: Nats - 47 (7th), Mets - 53 (3rd)
Walks: Nats - 144 (6th, Mets - 127 (10th)
Strikeouts: Nats - 302 (10th), Mets - 317 (9th)
Steals: Nats - 19 (16th), Mets - 10 (26th)
Team ERA: Nats - 2.97 (2nd), Mets - 3.09 (3rd)
Rotation ERA: Nats - 3.01 (2nd), Mets - 3.41 (6th)
Bullpen ERA: Nats - 2.88 (5th), Mets 2.44 (2nd)
Strikeouts: Nats - 353 (1st), Mets - 319 (9th)
Batting-average against: Nats - .227 (3rd), Mets - .256 (17th)
OPS against: Nats - .640 (3rd), Mets - .666 (5th)
Steals allowed: Nats - 11 (26th), Mets - 29 (2nd)
Long story short, we're looking at two teams with elite pitching staffs and average offenses that rely quite heavily on home runs.
Rendon keeps searching - Seeing the Nats call on Murphy to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth against the Marlins on Sunday was not a surprise, but the fact he replaced Anthony Rendon may have raised some eyebrows. Rendon is the Nats' No. 2 hitter and just two years ago won a Silver Slugger. Theoretically, Rendon is on the short-list of guys you would want up in that situation with two outs and two men on.
Rendon, though, has yet to find his swing with the quarter mark of the 2016 season quickly approaching. He is batting just .227 with an even uglier .627 OPS. He is just 12-for-69 (.203) in the month of May.
Manager Dusty Baker explained calling on Murphy - who was out of the starting lineup with an illness - as an attempt to roll with the hot hand, but did admit the team is searching for answers with Rendon.
“[Hitting coaches] Rick Schu and Jacque [Jones] and him are constantly trying to find out what the problem is. It’s just right now, it seems like he’s not getting the bat head out front. We know Anthony can hit. Everybody knows Anthony can hit. But you miss as much time as he’s missed last year, he’s got to find his groove again. We know Anthony is going to hit, big-time,” Baker said.
There's also this stat regarding Rendon that shows just how bad things have been in the leadoff spot for the Nats this season:
Anthony Rendon is tied for the MLB lead with 117 plate appearances with no one on base, which is amazing considering he's not a leadoff man.— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) May 16, 2016
Another note on Nats attendance - Last week I mentioned how the Nats had dropped in attendance to 20th after placing in the top half of the league for four straight seasons. They had their second-best crowd of the year on Sunday with over 36,000 in the house and now stand 15th in baseball. That's a nice recovery after this homestand.
However, they are still down from where they were last year. The Nats have had an average of 3,530 less people per game show up to Nationals Park compared to in 2015. Those numbers are likely to keep improving next homestand with the Mets and Cardinals set to arrive.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Bryce Harper 5/13 vs. Marlins - 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, 2 BB
Pitching line of the week: Max Scherzer 5/11 vs. Tigers - 9.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 20 SO, 0 BB, 119 pitches (96 strikes)
Quote of the Week
"Strikeouts are sexy. And to be able to punch out 20, it's sexy."
Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week
Can someone confirm the name Stephen A Smith called me on #FirstTake today? I swear I heard "Cliff Robertson"...I hope I'm wrong! Ha ha— Clint Robinson (@Robinson25Clint) May 10, 2016
Mon. – OFF
Tue. - 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Scherzer vs. Syndergaard)
Wed. – 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Gonzalez vs. Colon)
Thu. – 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Strasburg vs. Harvey)
Fri. – 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Roark vs. Nicolino)
Sat. – 7:15 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Ross vs. Fernandez)
Sun. – 1:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Scherzer vs. Conley)