By Michael Marzzacco

After sweeping the Phillies on Wednesday night the Nationals will continue their road trip this weekend in New York with a big three game series with the Mets.

The Mets have been struggling much of the season and have been plagued with injuries but their recent series win over the Marlins at home indicates they aren’t going away anytime soon. The Mets (69-65) sit just two games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot. Expect them to be highly motivated with their big rivals coming to town. They took the first three games of the Marlins series while dropping the fourth game last night. The Mets are 9 1/2 games behind Washington.

The Mets are without David Wright, Matt Harvey, Neil Walker and Lucas Duda for the remainder of the season.

The Nationals (78-55) have swept the Phillies and look to increase their division lead over Mets and Marlins. The Nats magic number to clinch the division is 20. Speaking of the number 20, the Nationals’ day off on Thursday ended a string of 20 games in 20 days. They’ll be well rested for this series and ready to put the Mets away.

Friday night will likely be the Nats’ toughest challenge in this series as New York sends ace Noah Syndergaard to the mound. The Nats will counter with A.J. Cole. Saturday and Sunday the pitching match-ups will be much more in favor of Washington as they counter with Tanner Roark tomorrow and Max Scherzer on Sunday.

In just a few days, the regular season of Minor League Baseball will come to a close and the Nats will call up several prospects. Some likely players to make the expanded roster this month are Mat Latos, Sean Burnett, Wilmer Difo, Pedro Severino and Reynaldo Lopez.

The pitching match-ups:

A.J. Cole (0-1, 4.97 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (12-7, 2.55 ERA) 7:10 MASN 2, WUSA 9, 106.7 The Fan

Tanner Roark (14-7, 2.87 ERA) vs. Robert Gsellman (1-1, 3.72 ERA) 7:10 MASN 2, 106.7 The Fan

Max Scherzer (15-7, 2.89 ERA) vs. Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.60 ERA) 8:08 ESPN, 106.7 The Fan

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