Offense still not adding much to Mets' charge


The New York Mets have a chance to pull into a virtual first-place tie in the National League East Division on Sunday when they play host to the Washington Nationals.

Here are some of the key statistical storylines surrounding Sunday’s game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN).

Mets seeking sweep

The Mets have won the first two games of the series, 2-1 (in 12 innings) on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. Still, the Nationals have won 18 of the last 24 one-run games in the series.

If the Mets complete the sweep, they will trail the Nationals by percentage points in the standings but be even in the games-behind column. The Elias Sports Bureau says the last time the Mets were in first place or tied for first (based on winning percentage) after August was through games of Sept. 19, 2008.

The Nationals, who have led the National League East Division since June 20, have totaled four runs in their last three games, and they have struck out 33 times in that time.

Nationals notes

The Nationals haven’t won a postseason series since the 1981 National League Division Series, when they were the Montreal Expos. A team based in Washington, D.C., hasn’t won a postseason series since 1924, when the Washington Senators won the World Series.

The Nationals are seeking their third National League East championship in the last four seasons. The franchise had never won a division title before 2012. (They led the National League East when play was stopped due to the strike in 1994.)

On the Nationals’ current road swing, which ends with tonight’s game, Bryce Harper is hitting .324 with a .932 OPS.

For perspective on Harper’s career, consider that he is in his age-22 season. He is more than 14 months younger than Mike Trout and 286 days younger than Kris Bryant.

Harper has two home runs in his last 13 games and a total of 29 this season. In the wild-card era (since 1994), six players have hit 30 home runs in or before their age-22 season: Trout, Albert Pujols, Giancarlo Stanton, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera and Andruw Jones.

Jordan Zimmermann is the Nationals’ scheduled starter. The Nationals have won Zimmermann’s past seven starts against the Mets, and he has 29 strikeouts and four walks in those games.

Mets notes

The Mets’ Lucas Duda hit two home runs Saturday, his fifth multiple-home run game of the season. Eight of his last nine hits have been home runs.

Duda has had 318 plate appearances against a shift, third-most in the majors. Only David Ortiz (347) and Chris Davis (332) have had more plate appearances against a shift.

The Mets had one of the worst offenses in baseball last season. And they’re worse this season, as the chart shows. They are tied with the Miami Marlins for most games scoring three runs or fewer (61).

Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ scheduled starter, is in the top 20 in fastball usage among starters with at least 85 innings pitched this season (64 percent of his pitches).

Syndergaard has 49 strikeouts with his fastball and 33 with his curveball. He made his debut May 12, and since then, he is one of 15 pitchers with at least 30 strikeouts with two pitches.

In the span, he’s one of four pitchers with at least 30 strikeouts with the fastball and the curveball. The other three are last year’s Cy Young winners (Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber) and last year’s World Series MVP (Madison Bumgarner).