|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, September 3, 2019
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Nationals' Scherzer, Mets' deGrom set to battle
For a short time in August, it appeared as if the last two pitchers to win the National League Cy Young Award might be headed for a winner-take-all clash in the wild-card game on the first Tuesday of October.
As it turns out, the final meeting of the season between Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer could take place on the first Tuesday of September.
DeGrom (8-8, 2.66 ERA) will look to pull the Mets closer in the race for the second NL wild card when he takes the mound against Scherzer (9-5, 2.46 ERA) in the third matchup of the season between the aces.
The Mets cruised to a 7-3 win in the series opener Monday afternoon, when Noah Syndergaard earned the victory by striking out 10 over seven scoreless innings.
The win was just the third in the last 10 games for the Mets, who are 9-11 since Aug. 10, when they capped one of the hottest streaks in team history and pulled within a half-game of a wild-card spot with a 4-3 win over the Nationals. That was the 15th victory in 16 games for New York, a span in which it gained eight games in the wild-card race.
With Monday's win, the Mets remained four games behind the Chicago Cubs, who currently hold second wild-card spot. The Cubs beat the Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Monday.
At this point in the season, merely treading water -- especially in a day game following a night game, as the Mets fell 5-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night -- qualifies as a victory for teams on the outside of the playoff picture.
"We've got a night game (Tuesday), rest tonight and (Tuesday) morning," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Monday. He added of his players, "They did a great job. Tough circumstances, but they stepped it up big-time."
The Nationals, meanwhile, have gone a baseball-best 16-4 since Aug. 11 to cement themselves as the wild-card favorite. Washington is 3 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs in the race for home field in the one-game playoff.
But for all intents and purposes, the playoffs are also beginning early for the Nationals, who on Monday began a stretch of 16 straight games against the Mets and three teams -- the NL East rival Atlanta Braves, the Minnesota Twins, and the St. Louis Cardinals -- that lead their divisions.
"It's going to be hard, but I think that's what you want going into the postseason," Nationals shortstop Trea Turner told reporters Monday. "People don't luck their way into the postseason. If we want to be there at the end of the day, we're going to have to play these teams and get some wins."
DeGrom, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, took the loss last Thursday, when he gave up four runs over seven innings as the Mets fell 4-1 to the Cubs. Scherzer, who won the NL Cy Young in 2016 and 2017, didn't factor into the decision last Wednesday, when he allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Nationals' 8-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Scherzer has pitched a total of 8 1/3 innings in two starts since returning from a month-long stint on the injured list caused by a mid-back strain.
DeGrom is 8-4 with a 2.33 ERA in 18 career starts against the Nationals. Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.47 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) against the Mets, whom he no-hit on Oct. 3, 2015.
The Mets won both deGrom-Scherzer matchups this season -- on Opening Day in Washington on March 28 and in New York on May 22.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 3, 2019