10/3/15 Game 1 Preview: Gonzalez vs. Syndergaard

At 1:10, Mets will take on the Washington Nationals at Citi Field in game 1 of a day-night doubleheader. Gio Gonzalez (3.93 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1.44 FIP, 169 2/3 IP over 30 starts) will face off against Noah Syndergaard (3.34, 3.27, 1.08, 143 IP over 23 starts). The Mets are seeking home field advantage against the Dodgers in the NLDS, and they are currently .5 games behind.

Lineups:

[NY Times]

Nationals:

  1. Anthony Rendon, 2B (R)
  2. Yunel Escobar, 3B (R)
  3. Bryce Harper, CF (L)
  4. Jayson Werth, LF (R)
  5. Clint Robinson, 1B (L)
  6. Ian Desmond, SS (R)
  7. Matt den Dekker, RF (L)
  8. Jose Lobaton, C (S)
  9. Gio Gonzalez, P (L)

Mets:

  1. Juan Lagares, CF (R)
  2. David Wright, 3B (R)
  3. Daniel Murphy, 2B (L)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (R)
  5. Michael Cuddyer, RF (R)
  6. Lucas Duda, 1B (L)
  7. Travis d’Arnaud, C (R)
  8. Ruben Tejada, SS (R)
  9. Noah Syndergaard, P (L)

Obviously, the news here is that Yoenis Cespedes is back in the Mets lineup, only three days after being drilled in the left hand by a pitch. It’s good to see him back, but there is still concern for Steven Matz, Juan Uribe, and Wilmer Flores. It seems unlikely Matz will see time in a major league game this weekend, but the team is confident that a muscle relaxant will get Matz ready for a 90-100 pitch game in the instructional league on Wednesday.

Also, Hansel Robles is appealing his 3-game suspension and will be available out of the bullpen this weekend. The suspension will not carry into the postseason.

Ruben Tejada gets the start at shortstop, and Flores’s back tightness aside, it appears Tejada will see the bulk of the time at shortstop in the postseason. While Tejada brings the better defense, since September 1st, he has also brought a better offense, slashing .333/.400/.463 in 60 plate appearances in that time (.372 wOBA). By comparison, in the same period of time, Wilmer Flores has slashed .269/.309/.385 in 55 plate appearances (.298 wOBA). Expect Tejada to get the starts against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, with Wilmer Flores perhaps getting a start or two against the Dodgers’ other two lefties (Alex Wood and Brett Anderson). Today, Terry Collins acknowledged that Tejada is the likely Game 1 starter against the Dodgers.

Gio Gonzalez gets the start for the Nationals, and the Mets will face him for the first time since July 31st, when Wilmer Flores hit a 12th inning walk-off home run. Gonzalez limited the Mets to 1 run over 4 2/3 innings in that game, but the Mets drove his pitch count up early. Gonzalez walked 4, struck out 6, and allowed 4 hits in that game. Away from Nationals Park this season, Gonzalez has a 4.45 ERA and a .327 wOBA against. Gonzalez also has a relatively high walk rate to righties (10%) as compared to lefties (5.5%), but also strikes out a lot of lefties (23.6%).

Syndergaard is facing the Nationals for the first time since his 8 brilliant innings on August 2nd, the game that put the Mets in a virtual tie for first place. The biggest splits for Syndergaard this season are his home/road splits, but he has gotten better lately. He has a 2.57 ERA at home (.244 wOBA) compared to 4.23 on the road (.323 wOBA). He gets righties and lefties out fairly evenly, with a .294 wOBA against lefties and a .271 wOBA against righties. He keeps his walk rate low against both righties and lefties, but strikes out a ton of righties (31.7%) and isn’t so bad with the lefties either (22.3%).

As always, LET’S GO METS!

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