What to look for: Mets vs. Nationals, 1:05 PM

Nationals Park 1 slice

The Mets open a three-game showdown series with the Nationals on Monday afternoon at Nationals Park at 1:05 PM.

BaronHere is today’s starting lineup for New York:

Curtis Granderson – RF
David Wright – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 1B
Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Michael Conforto – LF
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Kelly Johnson – 2B
Wilmer Flores – SS
Jonathon Niese – LHP

Here is today’s pitching matchup:

Jon Niese (8-10, 4.17 ERA) will start for the Mets.

Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.89 ERA) will start for the Nationals.

Mets vs NationalsHere’s what I’m looking for today from the Mets:

Show them who’s in first place.

If anyone thought the last showdown between these two clubs were big games, this series is by far the biggest series of the year for both clubs, and the most meaningful series for the Mets since 2008.

And it’s not even close.

But the Mets are still four games ahead of the Nationals despite a slip-up this past weekend to the lowly Marlins. They’ve allowed Washington in the door and a legitimate opportunity to get back into the race this week.

It’s up to the Mets to prevent that by winning at least two games in this series, and pushing Washington out the front door right now.

A Nieser day.

Niese has been ineffective in his last three starts, which leads to significant concerns heading into what is his biggest start of his life on Monday. His two-seamer, cutter, and curve have all flattened out lately, but he’s also let his emotions stand in the way of his own effectiveness at times during this stretch.

In what is expected to be a high-octane game on Monday, it’s up to Niese to stay focused and limit the damage when he does get in trouble, and not let things crumble down.

This is when it all matters the most for him – its vital he step it up both physically and mentally.

Click the bats.

The Mets are getting two weapons back for their lineup on Monday: Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy. So, they’re operating mostly at full strength with a much deeper bench than they’ve had in a few weeks. Their offense has been off and on lately, although they’ve shown signs of that consistency they had throughout the month of August over their last five days.

But this is what they’ve all been waiting for, which is a chance to put the Nationals away, and certainly not let them back in the door. Getting the bats in sync for today’s contest, executing the little things and finding a way to score just enough runs against Max Scherzer would go a long way towards supporting Niese, and stretching their lead back out to five games in the division.

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