Nationals at Mets
Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper are flexing their muscles and the Washington Nationals are in the early stages of kicking sand in the face of their division rivals heading into Friday's opener of a three-game series versus the host New York Mets. Zimmerman, who has hit safely in 12 of 15 contests, launched a grand slam on Wednesday and went deep the following day as Washington won its fourth straight and seventh in nine games with a 3-2 victory over Atlanta.
Harper isn't being left out of the fun as the 2015 National League MVP recorded a pair of two-homer, five-RBIs contests in a three-game stretch before adding a single in the finale versus the Braves. Harper and Zimmerman have enjoyed success versus Friday starter Jacob deGrom, with the former going 7-for-18 with a solo homer while the latter also went deep among his three hits in eight career at-bats. While NL East-leading Washington has collected eight of its 10 victories against division foes, New York has answered a five-game winning streak by dropping five of its last six - including two of three to struggling Philadelphia. Injuries are also mounting for the undermanned Mets, with Yoenis Cespedes expected to undergo an MRI on Friday after exiting the series finale versus the Phillies with a left hamstring cramp.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, MASN (Washington), SNY (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Tanner Roark (2-0, 3.50 ERA) vs. Mets RH Jacob deGrom (0-0, 1.89)
Roark did his best to help his cause with a double highlighting his own two-hit performance on Saturday, but settled for a no-decision despite allowing just two runs on four hits in seven innings against Philadelphia. The 30-year-old has kept the ball in the park in all three outings this season and did not walk a batter for the second straight trip to the mound. Roark owns a 3-1 career mark with a 2.08 ERA at Citi Field and has kept red-hot Jay Bruce in check regardless of venue, with the slugger batting just .091 in 11 at-bats.
A career high-tying 13-strikeout performance by deGrom went by the boards on Saturday as the bullpen blew the lead and left the 28-year-old with a no-decision against Miami. DeGrom surrendered a pair of solo homers among his four hits over seven innings before departing. While the right-hander has endured struggles against Harper and Zimmerman, deGrom has gotten the better of Jayson Werth (1-for-12, three strikeouts).
1. New York RF Curtis Granderson is 0-for-15 in his last four games and just 8-for-56 this season.
2. Washington 2B Daniel Murphy (leg), a former Met, is questionable for the series opener after being scratched from Thursday's lineup while SS Trea Turner (hamstring) is expected to be activated from the disabled list Friday.
3. In addition to Cespedes, New York also has 1B Lucas Duda (elbow), C Travis d'Arnaud (right wrist contusion) and INF Wilmer Flores (infection) among its walking wounded.