Mets brace for Scherzer, Nationals (Jul 12, 2018)

NEW YORK — New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he thinks his ace pitcher, Jacob deGrom, should start for the National League in next week’s All-Star Game.

But Callaway and the Mets are almost surely going to see the NL’s starter Thursday night, when Max Scherzer takes the mound for the Washington Nationals in the opener of a four-game series at Citi Field.

Scherzer (11-5, 2.33 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Mets left-hander Steven Matz (4-6, 3.31).

The Nationals were blanked Wednesday afternoon, when they fell to the host Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0. A few hours later, deGrom made one more impressive pitch to start the All-Star Game when he tossed eight scoreless innings against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

However, in what has become a theme of deGrom’s season, he didn’t earn a win for his efforts, though the Mets did eke out a 3-0, 10-inning victory thanks to Brandon Nimmo’s three-run homer.

DeGrom, who was named to the All-Star team along with Scherzer on Sunday, finishes the first half 5-4 with a major league-leading 1.68 ERA. The 30-year-old right-hander has a 1.28 ERA in 15 starts dating back to April 21.

“He should be starting the All-Star Game,” Callaway said afterward. “That’s how I feel about him. There’s no doubt in my mind, if he’s not (starting), then that’s the wrong decision.”

Alas, chances are Callaway will disagree with the decision of NL manager Dave Roberts. The All-Star Game is being played in Washington and Scherzer, the two-time defending Cy Young Award winner, has a case to earn his second straight All-Star Game start and third overall well beyond being the hometown favorite.

Scherzer enters Thursday leading the NL in strikeouts (177), WHIP (0.89) and innings pitched (127 2/3) while remaining on pace for his third 20-win season.

“Whenever I get to pitch it’s going to be awesome,” Scherzer told reporters Sunday afternoon. “I’ve gotten a chance to be a part of these a handful of times now and it’s always been really cool to see the hometown fans get behind the hometown All-Stars. I think some of the cool memories I’ve seen over the years is the fan support.”

Scherzer made his first All-Star Game start in 2013, when the game was played at Citi Field, and he took the mound for the American League against the National League and then-Mets ace Matt Harvey.

Scherzer snapped a four-decision losing streak in his most recent start Saturday, when he allowed four runs over seven innings as the Nationals cruised to an 18-4 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Matz took the loss Saturday, when he gave up one run over 6 1/3 innings as the Mets fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0. He is 1-2 with a 2.37 ERA in six career starts versus Washington.

Scherzer is 8-4 with a 2.23 ERA in 15 career appearances (14 starts) against the Mets. The ERA is his lowest against any opponent he’s faced more than five times.

Scherzer no-hit the Mets on Oct. 3, 2015, when he struck out 17 and walked none in the Nationals’ 2-0 win. Only a sixth-inning throwing error by third baseman Yunel Escobar prevented Scherzer from recording a perfect game.