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First pitch: Mets aim for series win against Nationals

Mets starting pitcher Jacob Degrom delivers a pitch

Mets starting pitcher Jacob Degrom delivers a pitch to the Milwaukee Brewers during the sixth inning of a game Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. Credit: AP / Jeffrey Phelps

WASHINGTON -- Here's a list of Mets players with an OPS better than .700 in the second half, non-Jeurys Familia division, of course: 

Lucas Duda .992
Daniel Murphy .932

That's it. Now, here's a list of those who are nowhere close to a modest .700 OPS in the second half so far:

David Wright .455
Ruben Tejada .495
Curtis Granderson .515
Juan Lagares .563

That leaves little mystery as to why the Mets offense has produced a .209/.274/.308 slash line since the All-Star break. It also illustrates why manager Terry Collins has little choice when it comes to juggling his lineup.

Before be dropped down a bunt during Wednesday night's 7-1 loss to the Nationals, the struggling Granderson had lugged with him to the plate an 0-for-18. In the second half, he's hitting just .161/.257/.258. Those are particularly brutal numbers for a leadoff hitter. 

Wright, meanwhile, appears to be battling with making adjustments to his swing. Collins suggested that Wright may be in the same boat as pitcher Jonathon Niese, forced to undo mechanical adjustments initially made to "relieve some of the discomfort" l of playing through an injury. In Wright's case, that's the balky left shoulder that required him to miss more than a week  before receiving a cortisone shot at the All-Star break.

Clearly, Collins doesn't exactly have a bunch of options at his disposal. So, he intends to ride it out in hopes that Granderson (and everyone else) breaks out soon.

"Unfortunately... we don't have a lot of guys who are getting on base at a high rate," Collins said. "So we're just going to stay where we are."

The only lineup wrinkle for Thursday's series finale against the Nationals is a minor one -- rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom is hitting eighth. That means it's Eric Young Jr.'s turn on the leftfield carousel, since Collins views him as another leadoff type in the ninth slot.

Wilmer Flores starts at shortstop for the first time since Sunday against the Giants. It appears to be a favorable matchup since deGrom’s 43.6 percent ground ball rate is the second lowest in the rotation to fly ball pitcher Bartolo Colon (38.9 percent). Less grounders means potential for Flores’ lack of range hurting the Mets.

With a day game following a night game, backup catcher Anthony Recker will start over Travis d’Arnaud. But it doesn’t seem to matter who’s behind the plate for deGrom, who has been impressive. In six starts with d’Arnaud, deGrom has a 2.84 ERA. In four starts with Recker, it’s 2.45 with opponents hitting .182.

And yes, there’s a pretty good argument to be made that catcher’s ERAs don’t mean a whole lot.

Old pal Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says that Jayson Werth is back in the lineup after exiting Wednesday night’s game in the sixth inning with a banged-up left shoulder. Catcher Wilson Ramos remains on paternity leave.  (Local radio seems to have left that one alone, though). 

The lineups for this 12:35 p.m. finale:

Curtis Granderson RF
Daniel Murphy 2B
David Wright 3B
Lucas Duda 1B
Juan Lagares CF
Wilmer Flores SS
Anthony Recker C
Jacob deGrom RHP
Eric Young Jr. LF

Denard Span CF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Bryce Harper LF
Asdrubal Cabrera 2B
Jose Lobaton C
Jordan Zimmermann RHP

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