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Is boring Mets-Nationals a sad glimpse at the future?.

A series that looked potentially important when these two NL East rivals last convened in April has been reduced almost to “so what?” status. The Mets are roadkill, and the Nationals have been maybe the biggest underachievers in the major leagues this season. So it’s understandable the four games at Citi Field starting Thursday will...
Time: 10:50     Date: 12.07.2018
Last US Sport News: Is boring Mets-Nationals a sad glimpse at the future?. NY Post 24 - US News

The Mets are roadkill, and the Nationals have been maybe the biggest underachievers in the major leagues this season. So it’s understandable the four games at Citi Field starting Thursday will lack the traditional buzz of a Nationals-Mets series heading toward the All-Star break.

“It’s unexpected, especially the way we started the year, I think we definitely would have thought this series would be much more meaningful,” Michael Conforto said Wednesday before the Mets’ 3-0, 10-inning win over the Phillies at Citi Field. “But it is the Nationals and I still consider it to be a rivalry. We always like matching up against them so I think it still carries something with it even if the standings are not what we expected them to be.”

Those standings showed the third-place Nationals, who lost 2-0 to the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon, at 46-46, 5 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. The Mets have long been removed from playoff contention as they attempt to avoid the basement — they are 37-53 and 13 ½ games removed from first place.

Injuries have pounded the Mets — with Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard, among others, missing extended stretches. The Nationals have endured their own physical problems, with Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and Stephen Strasburg among the players who have missed extensive action.

Murphy, who rehabbed from offseason knee surgery, has played only 24 games, in which he has posted an anemic .250/.279/.338 slash line with one homer and 10 RBIs.

The Nationals’ best player, Bryce Harper, has a solid .837 OPS, but is playing below his lofty standards — included is a .213 batting average with his 22 home runs.

“Obviously they have had some key injuries and had some guys probably not performing to what they would like, so it’s surprising,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “I think the way the Phillies and Braves have played has probably been the most surprising of all. I think they are ahead of schedule, kind of like the Yankees were last year, and they have some young players who are going out and playing the game care free, so that is probably the most surprising thing in our division at this point.”

The Mets swept the Nationals in three games in Washington in early April. When the Nationals came to Citi Field just over a week later, the Mets lost two of three games. Even so, the Mets were 13-4 at the series’ conclusion and the teams appeared ready to battle throughout the summer.

But the Mets melted in May before enduring a historically bad June. And the Nationals have muddled behind the Phillies and Braves.

Could it be the new rule of order in the NL East?

“That’s going to be interesting, to see what we do and what [the Nationals] do,” Zack Wheeler said. “I think the Braves and Phillies are pretty much set because they have got so many young guys, they are pretty much there for a while. The tide might be turning, but at the same time I know our team and our front office want to win, and I think we’ll make strides to make that happen.”

Conforto only can wonder how it might have been different if the Mets were healthy.

“I think the Nationals are still a good team and I think we’re still a good team,” he said. “We’ve got some injuries, it’s just been a tough go for this team.”

Sport

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Opinion

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Living

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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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