Atlanta's 4-1 victory over Florida on Wednesday afternoon ended New York's postseason hopes for 2011, a season in which they endured a tenuous financial situation, parted with big-name players Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, and never received a single pitch from Johan Santana.
The Mets host the Nationals for the final time this season on Thursday, trying to break out of a funk in which they have lost five straight games and seven of their last eight following Wednesday night's 2-0 loss.
"I impress the point on a daily basis that you still play," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You still play the game the right way. You still go about your job the right way. This game is played by people who approach this game with respect. So that's what we expect to see."
Right-hander Chris Schwinden, pitching in place of Miguel Batista, makes his second start for the Mets after allowing five earned runs over five innings against the Braves on Sept. 8.
Tommy Milone will face the Mets for the second time in three career starts. He allowed four earned runs over 4 1/3 innings the last time he faced them, on Sept. 3. In two starts he has a 6.30 ERA, five strikeouts and no walks.
Mets: Santana ends season
After taking himself out of a scheduled rehab start for Class A Savannah in Thursday's Game 3 of the South Atlantic League's best-of-five title series, Johan Santana is done pitching for the Mets organization this year. He will throw a simulated game on Sunday before heading to the instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Fla. After that he may pitch Winter Ball in Venezuela.
"He doesn't know how ready he's going to be, and it could be the championship game, and he doesn't feel like that's his place," Collins said of the Savannah game.
Santana has two years and $55 million guaranteed remaining on the six-year, $137.5 million contract he signed in 2008. He hopes he'll be fully healthy for Spring Training after setbacks derailed a rehab process that originally pegged him for a return in June or July.
Shortstop Jose Reyes will not play on Thursday, a day game after a night game. And even when he does play, don't expect to see him attempt many steals, as the Mets are closely monitoring his legs.
"When I feel better, I'm going to try to steal bases," Reyes said. "But right now I'm backing off a little bit."
Nationals: Mattheus throws pain-free bullpen session
Right-hander Ryan Mattheus threw a pain-free bullpen session on Tuesday and could return for the Phillies series next week.
"The ball is coming out real good," said Mattheus, who could throw a simulated game this weekend when the Nationals return home. "I had no issue with the arm, which is the biggest thing. I let it go a little bit more, and it felt game-like. My stuff was really good."
Outfielder Corey Brown is out for the season after undergoing surgery on Wednesday to address a staph infection in his right knee.
The 19 homers hit by Washington's Danny Espinosa tie him with Atlanta's Freddie Freeman for the NL lead among rookies. Espinosa's next home run will tie Ryan Zimmerman and Brad Wilkerson for the franchise record for home runs by a rookie. He would also join Dan Uggla and Alexei Ramirez as the only rookie second basemen in Major League history to hit 20 or more home runs.
Washington hasn't allowed a home run in nine straight games, extending a club record. The franchise record is 13.