The Mets are coming to DC for the first time this year. They're in last place, but only a game behind the 3rd place Nats. Unfortunately, the Nats are coming off of a dreadful 5 game losing streak for a 3-6 road trip. Fortunately, 2 of those wins are against the Mets at Citi Field. The Nats have basically had the Mets number this year: the Nats are 4-2 against at Citi this season. The Nats are 11-8 at home on the season and are looking to monopolize on their success at home with a start from their newly found "ace" on short rest.
Livan Hernandez volunteered to pitch on short rest after the double header in Colorado, which the Nats were already considering according to Jim Riggleman. Livo is 4-2 on the year with his only to losses on days that he pitched against Ubaldo Jimenez, who is one of only 2 starters in the league with a better ERA than him. Livan has looked great in every outing thus far, averaging just over 7 innings per game and allowing only 9 runs all season with a 1.46 ERA. If the Nats are going to win today, it's going to have to be on a very solid start from Livan on only 3 days rest. Maybe it's asking too much from the 35 year old, but he says he's ready for it.
Facing Livan is R.A. Dickey, a Mets aquisition from the Twins who will be making his first start in the NL. He has a career 5.43 ERA and throws a lot of knuckleballs. The last time the Nats faced a knuckleballer, Charlie Haeger of the LA Dodgers, they lit him up for 4 runs in 5 1/3 innings. It might not be a great comparison, though, because Haeger was just put on the DL with an 0-4 record and an 8.49 ERA. That game was also Luis Atilano's first win, for those keeping track.
The Nats will try to get things back on the right track with this short 5 game road trip before they get back on the road for another 10 games mostly on the left coast with San Fran and San Diego for 3 each and then Houston for 4. By the end of this road trip, the Nats will have played only 24 games at home and 31 on the road, so this homestand is crucial for this team to get the momentum going.