MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Washington Nationals at New York Mets

Date/Time: August 2, 8:00 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 3.36) vs. Noah Syndergaard (5-5, 2.70)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: New York -130

Total: 6.5

This has been an outstanding series so far, so there’s no better way to end it than with ESPN Sunday Night Baseball and another fantastic pitching matchup. Jordan Zimmermann and the Washington Nationals will try to end the series on a high note against Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets. These two teams will hopefully be battling it out for first place in the NL East throughout the rest of the season. They won’t meet again until Labor Day (September 7), so a lot will happen between now and when they play again.

The next time the Nationals will return to Citi Field will be for a three-game series October 2-4 to end the regular season. Will first place in the NL East be on the line? Will one of these two teams be looking to clinch a wild card spot? Time will tell, but both teams used the trade deadline to take a step in the right direction. The Nationals added Jonathan Papelbon and moved Drew Storen into a setup role. The Mets added some much needed offense, picking up Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, and Kelly Johnson. They also bolstered their bullpen with Tyler Clippard. Hopefully that will mean a good race down to the wire.

Jordan Zimmermann is a free agent at the end of the year, so all of his starts from here on out are important, not just for his team’s sake, but for his bank account’s sake. Zimmermann has been the most consistent Nationals starter over the last few seasons and he’s having his usual solid season this year. Over 21 starts, Zimmermann has a 3.36 ERA, 3.16 FIP, and a 3.90 xFIP. It’s not as strong as the 2.66/2.68/3.10 he posted last season, but he continues to be a workhorse that doesn’t walk batters and keeps the ball in the park.

Zimmermann’s strikeout rate has dropped by 5.6 percent this season, but that’s not as much of a concern as it would be for other guys because he 2014 season was the outlier. This is the lowest strikeout output of his career, but he regularly posts elite walk rates. The Nationals defense has hurt him a little bit, as evidenced by a 30-point increase in batting average against. Regardless, he’s on pace to post numbers right around his career averages and make over 30 starts for the fourth straight season. The Mets are not a gifted offensive team, but their year-to-date numbers don’t include some of their trade acquisitions.

Noah Syndergaard is part of a Mets rotation that will keep the team relevant for several years to come. The man known as “Thor” made his MLB debut earlier this season and he has been dominant ever since. In 14 starts, Syndergaard is just 5-5, a testament to the team’s offense, with a 2.70 ERA, 2.64 FIP, and a 3.01 xFIP. He has over a strikeout per inning this season and has shown terrific control. Quite frankly, Syndergaard is awesome.

Oh, and to top it off, Syndergaard recently added a new pitch to his arsenal. Syndergaard and other Mets pitchers are throwing a Warthen slider, named after former Major League pitcher Dan Warthen. It is a harder, sharper slider, somewhat like a cutter. Some have suggested that the Warthen slider and its grip have been a root cause of the Mets’ pitching injuries. For now, it’s just another weapon in the arsenal of talented pitchers like Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, and Jacob deGrom, who all use it to some extent. The Nationals lineup has gotten healthier, so they are a much more formidable group than they have been in the past, but this new wrinkle may be just what Syndergaard needs.

MLB Prediction: New York Mets

This game should have a playoff atmosphere. With the whole baseball world watching, two tremendous starters on two excellent teams face off in the series finale. The slight lean goes to the Mets in this situation, since Syndergaard has been dominant more often than Zimmermann and some of the Nationals are still working to get their timing back. Whatever happens, this should be a tremendous game to watch.