Nationals-Mets Preview


This pitching matchup could have taken place seven months ago. Instead, it will happen Friday night when Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals put their franchise-record eight-game road winning streak in this series on the line against impressive New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey.

Strasburg was in line to pitch Sept. 12 in the final matchup with the Mets last season, but the Nationals made the controversial move of shutting down their ace, who was in his first full season following Tommy John surgery. Washington won its eighth straight at Citi Field that night behind starter John Lannan and Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a solo homer off Harvey in a 2-0 victory. Harvey, making his first start against Washington, struck out 10 in five-plus innings.

Harvey (3-0, 0.82 ERA) gets the ball after fanning nine in eight innings of a 4-2 victory at Minnesota on Saturday. He didn't give up a hit until Justin Morneau's solo homer with two out in the seventh.

"I'm glad they've got another good young pitcher coming along that's showing a lot of promise," Nationals manager Davey Johnson, the Mets' manager from 1984-90, told the team's official website. " ... That's interesting, and I'll look forward to it when Friday comes."

Strasburg (1-2, 2.95) gets back to work after losing his second consecutive start, 3-1 to Atlanta on Saturday. The right-hander allowed two unearned runs in six innings after walking four and yielding six runs in his previous outing, a 6-3 loss at Cincinnati on April 7.

"I wanted to go out there and try to go deep in the ballgame, but unfortunately I threw a lot of pitches early (and finished with 112), so that kind of spoiled that," Strasburg said. "But at least I was able to go out and give six."

Strasburg was dominant in two starts at Citi Field last season, both wins.

Zimmerman, 24 for 71 (.338) with four homers and 13 RBIs against the Mets in 2012, left Wednesday's 6-1 victory at Miami with cramps in his left hamstring, but he should be available Friday.

Nationals outfielder Denard Span could return after missing two games with the flu, but second baseman Danny Espinosa (bruised right hand) is questionable after sitting out three.

There's no question the Mets (7-7) are happy about playing their first home game since April 7 after a trip that included three winter weather postponements. New York lost its third straight Thursday, 11-3, in a game that started at 28 degrees, tying a Colorado Rockies' record for coldest home start.

"We're glad it's over and we know the weather's going to start changing soon, start getting baseball weather," manager Terry Collins said. "We didn't swing the bats today either. We didn't get a lot of opportunities. We've got to start taking BP like we normally do and get back on our schedule.''

A bigger concern might be the Mets' bullpen, which saw its ERA jump from 3.06 to 5.32 on the trip.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy hit .417 (15 for 36) during that stretch, while David Wright went 13 for 35 (.371) with his first two homers and a team-high 13 RBIs.

Wright hit .344 (22 for 64) with five homers and 10 RBIs last season against Washington (9-6), which won 14 of 18 matchups. The third baseman is 1 for 6 with four strikeouts versus Strasburg.

Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper, who's batting .364 with five homers and 11 RBIs, is 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Harvey.