For the Mets to win the N.L. East, they’ll have to go through the Nationals. For the Yankees to win the A.L. East, they’ll have to fend off the Orioles (and also the Rays, Blue Jays and—yes—maybe even the Red Sox).
The Mets enter Monday’s contest with Washington two games behind, which sets up a series that could alter the division race. The Mets send ace Matt Harvey against Gio Gonzalez and the rest of the series, pitching-wise, will also be difficult for the Nationals to handle. It would be difficult for anyone to handle.
Hall of Famer John Smoltz recently said that the Mets' rotation is more talented than his Braves from the ‘90s. Along with Smoltz, that rotation included fellow Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
“They’re way better,” Smoltz said of the Mets young starting core. “They’ve got more talent than we could ever have.”
After Harvey, the Mets send last year’s Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom to the hill and Noah Syndergaard —- a Rookie of the Year candidate this season -— follows him on Wednesday. DeGrom and Syndergaard are aces in their own right; Washington will counter with rookie Joe Ross on Tuesday and Jordan Zimmerman on Wednesday.
The Yankees enter Monday with a four-game lead over the Orioles, but the A.L. East seems to have a revolving door at the top of the standings. Wednesday’s matchup pits young Baltimore hurler Kevin Gausman against Ivan Nova, who has been working his way back from Tommy John surgery.
On Sunday, the Yankees could get a little help from the Tigers in putting the Red Sox to bed. Boston entered the season with a revamped rotation and high hopes but are eight games in back of the Yankees and might be sellers at the trade deadline.
Despite the loss of Max Scherzer, the Tigers also entered the season believing they could contend. David Price has anchored the rotation and Detroit has gotten a lot of offense from Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Iglesias and J.D. Martinez, but Justin Verlander is not the same pitcher he was and the bullpen has been shaky. The Tigers just fell under .500 for the first time this season and are 10.5 games behind the A.L. Central leaders, the Kansas City Royals.
But Detroit has not given up hope yet and might add some pieces at the deadline.
“You don’t have one eye on the standings and the other eye on the baseball you’re hitting,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “You come back tomorrow and play another game. You put yesterday behind you, and you hope that tomorrow is the beginning of a run of some sort.”
It’s a long season. There’s lots of baseball left to be played.
MLB on SLING TV SCHEDULE
*All times eastern. Projected starters as of Monday. Some games subject to regional blackout.
Monday, July 20
New York Mets at Washington, 7pm (ESPN)
Matt Harvey vs Gio Gonzalez
Wednesday, July 22
Baltimore at New York Yankees, 7pm (ESPN)
Kevin Gausman vs Ivan Nova
Sunday, July 26
Detroit at Boston, 8pm (ESPN)
Shane Greene vs Brian Johnson