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Nationals' Gonzalez looks to continue mastery of Mets

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez has excelled mightily against the New York Mets, a team that he is very familiar with in the National League East.

"It could be a double-edged sword," Gonzalez, standing in front of his locker in the Washington Nationals clubhouse Friday, said of facing a team often.

The veteran lefty is 13-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 22 starts against New York, having allowed just 99 hits in 131 2/3 innings. Gonzalez (12-5, 2.39) will face Robert Gsellman (5-5, 5.65) of the Mets on Saturday night in the second game of the series.

Gonzalez is 6-1 in his last nine starts against the Mets and this year is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two starts.

But the Mets lineup will have a different look from the last time Gonzalez faced them, since New York has traded a group of veterans including Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce and watched outfielder Mike Conforto go on the disabled list Friday after he dislocated his shoulder Thursday.

"That team, it is never easy," said Gonzalez, after he learned Conforto was on the DL. "They know how to scrape, they know how to fight. With the new faces, they are there to make a name for themselves."

The Mets (56-71) are now 20 1/2 games back of the first-place Nationals (76-50) after New York won 4-2 on Friday behind right-hander Jacob deGrom.

But the win was costly as Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said after the game that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will go on the disabled list and could be lost for the year after he strained his right hamstring while running the bases in the first inning.

"He will be examined Monday in New York. We will have somebody else in here tomorrow; we will have someone take his spot," Alderson said. "I would say the season is in jeopardy."

New York manager Terry Collins doesn't want any sympathy for his team that has an average age of 26.7 years, the second-youngest in the majors.

"We have our hands full this weekend. They better be ready," Collins said of his team Friday.

Gsellman is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three career starts against Washington. He has fanned 11 batters and walked six against the Nationals, who scored seven runs, all earned, on June 15 as the Mets lost 8-3 as he gave up a career-high 11 hits.

The last win for Gsellman against the Nationals was September 3, 2016 he went six innings and allowed one run on six hits in a 3-1 win by the Mets.

Gsellman, in his last start this season, took a no-decision on August 21 against the Arizona Diamondbacks as New York lost 3-2 in extra innings. The right-hander went 6 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run on five hits and struck out three with one walk.

He has a 2.31 ERA in two starts since coming off the disabled list August 15.

Gsellman has pitched in 16 games on the road in his career, with 14 starts, and is 4-2 with a 5.51 ERA. In seven road games this year he is 2-2 with a 7.85 ERA.

Current members of the Nationals organization are hitting 20-for-50 (.400) against Gsellman. But that includes Trea Turner (2-for-9) and Jayson Werth (1-for-6), who began rehab assignments at Single-A Potomac on Friday after playing three games earlier this week for Triple-A Syracuse.

One active player who has hit well against Gsellman is Daniel Murphy (5-for-8, .625), the former Mets second baseman who joined Washington in 2016.

Murphy is hitting nearly .400 (49-for-125) against his former team even after going 0-for-4 Friday as his season average fell to .317.

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