W2W4: Mets at Nationals (July 17)

Jonathon Niese Stats To Watch

Niese has been good in his first start out of the All-Star Break in each of the last two seasons. He allowed one run in seven innings in a loss to the Giants in 2010 and two runs in seven innings in a win over the Phillies last season.

Since getting roughed up by the Blue Jays on May 18, Niese has allowed only two earned runs in his last 21 2/3 road innings.

Niese finally ran into trouble with runners in scoring position in his last start prior to the break against the Cubs.

Pitching out of jams has been a specialty for Niese all season. He’s given up just 15 hits in 74 at-bats against with runners in scoring position.

He’s 2-0 in four career starts against the Nationals.

Ross Detwiler Stats To Watch

It will be interesting to see how the Mets lefty hitters do, if Terry Collins chooses to utilize them.

Lefties are hitting .139 against Detwiler since the start of last season, including 9-for-74 (.122) in 2012. He specializes in getting them to hit ground balls, often weakly to the right side.

Lefties have reached base once on the 24 ground balls that they’ve hit over the second base bag, or to the first base side of it, against Detwiler this season.

Getting Wright Again

David Wright is hitless in his last nine at-bats, all of which came against right-handed pitching. Wright is hitting .364 with a 1.017 OPS against lefties this season and has a .492 on-base percentage in 59 turns versus Nationals lefties dating back to 2009.

Shot in the Arm

As was noted in the series preview, Wright’s good friend, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is on an offensive tear, matching his homer total from April to June with five in July, not long after getting a cortisone shot to deal with a recurring injury.

Inside Edge, a company that provides video analysis charted Zimmerman with a hard-hit ball on 31 percent of the balls he hit in the season’s first three months. In July, his hard-hit rate is 63 percent (17 of 27 balls hit).

The spot to avoid working against Zimmerman is over the middle and inside-third of the plate. Fifteen of his 17 hits this month have come against pitches to that area.

Another look at Bryce Harper

Harper is due to go deep. He is hitting .233 with one home run in his last 116 at-bats after hitting .304 with seven homers in his first 148 trips.

He was hitless in his last nine at-bats against lefties before singling with two outs in the ninth inning against Marlins southpaw Mike Dunn on Monday.