The Washington Nationals are making a late push for the playoffs, and sending Jordan Zimmermann and his NL high-tying 15 wins to the mound Friday night should give them another opportunity to make up ground in the wild-card race.
The right-hander, though, has yet to earn a victory this year against the New York Mets, who look to get another dominant performance in the season series from Dillon Gee.
Washington swept three games from Miami and won for the 14th time in 19 contests with a 9-0 victory Thursday night. The Nationals' hot stretch has enabled them to pull within 6 1/2 games of Cincinnati for the second wild-card spot.
"We're a scary team when we're going good, and I think everybody knows that," outfielder Bryce Harper said.
Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth hit three-run homers, and Harper added a two-run shot Thursday to extend his career-best hitting streak to 11 games as Washington improved to 8-1 in its last nine contests. Desmond is 13 for 26 with three homers and eight RBIs over the last six games.
Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32 ERA) matched up with Gee (9-9, 3.69) on April 21 in New York and gave up two runs over five innings in a 2-0 loss. Zimmermann has a 3.20 ERA in three starts against the Mets (60-72) but no wins to show for it.
Gee has been at his best when facing the Nationals (68-65). He won his first three starts against them behind a 0.96 ERA before allowing four runs over seven innings in a 4-1 loss at Washington on July 27.
Zimmermann struggled two starts ago in an 11-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs before bouncing back in Kansas City on Saturday. After tying career highs with eight runs and three homers allowed in Chicago, he gave up two runs in 7 2-3 innings to beat the Royals 7-2 and tie St. Louis' Adam Wainwright for the NL lead in wins.
"Against the Cubs, I was nibbling a little bit and throwing too many offspeed pitches and that's not the way I pitch," Zimmermann told the Nationals' official website. "(The Royals) knew that and they were super aggressive and I was able to mix the changeup around the fourth inning on. I got some quick outs and I was able to stay in the game a little longer."
Following last month's loss in Washington, Gee went 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his next four starts before losing 11-3 to Detroit on Sunday. He allowed four runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in six innings.
Gee lost for only the third time in 16 starts and entered with a 2.27 ERA since May 30, the fourth-best mark in the majors during that span.
The Mets won for the second time in three contests following a five-game skid, 11-3 over Philadelphia on Thursday. Daniel Murphy went 4 for 5 with two RBIs and Eric Young went 3 for 5 and drove in three runs.
Murphy is 9 for 31 (.290) with three homers and two doubles against Zimmermann, who is 10-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 home starts.