In the grand scheme, tonight's Mets game didn't mean much. The Mets are eliminated from postseason contention, the lineup is injury depleted, and a game taking place in the Bronx captured most of baseball's attention. Still, a win tonight would have kept alive hopes of finishing .500 and also given our heroes their first series victory against the Nationals this season. A doubleheader sweep feels pretty good, too. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the Mets were shut out in a boring 3-0 loss.
This game was a burgeoning pitcher's duel, as Zack Wheeler and Gio Gonzalez traded zeroes through the first three innings. Wheeler notched five strikeouts; Gio, seven. Things changed in the fourth inning, when Wheeler started to labor. Three singles, two walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a passed ball led to three Nationals runs in the frame, the only runs of the game. It took Wheeler 37 pitches to make it through the inning, emblematic of his biggest foe this season: high pitch counts.
As Wheeler struggled, Gonzalez dominated. He breezed through his seven innings of work, finishing with 12 strikeouts while allowing no runs and just three baserunners (two on walks). The Mets did put two runners on with one out against reliever Matt Thornton in the eighth inning, but the fearsome tandem of Bobby Abreu and Eric Young Jr. was unable to drive in any runs. Drew Storen sent the Mets down one-two-three in the ninth inning to end it.
Wheeler's season is over and there's reason to be pleased with his performance. Compared to 2013, he improved his strikeout, walk, and ground-ball rates, while chopping over half a run off of his FIP. He was about average, overall, and was probably the Mets' second-or-third best starting pitcher. Control is certainly an area for improvement, and it would be nice to see him go deeper into games. He averaged less than six innings pitched per start this season. However, his stuff looks great, and he's still just 24 years old. It will be fun to watch Wheeler's continued development in 2015.
Best wishes to Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who took a foul ball to a precious part of his anatomy in the fourth inning.
The Mets start their final series of the season Friday night against the Astros. The pitching matchup for game one is Jon Niese vs Brad Peacock. First pitch is at 7:10 pm ET at Citi Field. See you then!
SB Nation GameThreads
* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Federal Baseball GameThread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Ruben Tejada +6.5%, Daisuke Matsuzaka +2.5%
Big losers: Zack Wheeler -13.1% (as pitcher), Eric Young Jr. -11.1%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Gio Gonzalez strikeout with bases loaded in fourth inning, +4.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Nate Schierholtz walk to load bases in fourth inning, -8.6%
Total pitcher WPA: -10.1%
Total batter WPA: -39.9%
GWRBI!: Tyler Moore RBI fielder's choice in the fourth inning