With first pitch of the second game of the season scheduled for a little more than forty-eight hours after the Mets’ Opening Day win, a not-so-rainy delay pushed the start of the team’s second game of the season back by roughly an hour. It was, of course, Jacob deGrom’s first start of the 2015 season, and the Mets had an opportunity to win the opening series against the favorites to win the National League East.
As good as deGrom was in his rookie campaign last year, the Mets were up against the perennially-underrated Jordan Zimmermann, who has been one of baseball’s better pitchers for the past several years who is eligible to hit the free agent market after the season. For now, though, he is very much still a part of the Nationals.
The run-scoring part of the game was over with pretty early. Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first on an inside pitch by deGrom. Yunel Escobar, who scored on the play, had reached base on a one-out ground ball single between third base and shortstop. It wasn’t exactly an easy play for the average shortstop, but it was a ball that Wilmer Flores could not quite reach.
The Mets’ lone run of the game scored on a Travis d’Arnaud single in the second. Despite a failed sacrifice bunt attempt by deGrom in that inning, the Mets had the bases loaded with Curtis Granderson—who had struck out in the first inning on another one of baseball’s very aggressive check swing strike calls—at the plate. With a full count and all three runners in motion, Zimmermann delivered a pitch that looked an awful lot like a ball, but the home plate umpire called Granderson out on strikes. It looked bad on the video, but the strike zone plot at Brooks Baseball suggests the pitch was more borderline than it originally appeared. It's the one labeled six.
Even in the second game of the year, it’s tough to get too excited about a loss, but there were good things in this game. The Mets often made very good contact, but the harder they hit the ball, the close it seemed to get to a Nationals defender. Bryce Harper, in particular, seemed to be right in the path of every ball hit in the air to right field, and he twice held Mets hitters to singles that most times would have been doubles. So the Mets had their first poor BABIP experience of the season.
On top of that, deGrom was pretty damn good. He pitched six innings, struck out six, walked two, and only gave up those two runs on that Zimmerman home run. He might not have shut the Nationals out in his outing, but his stuff looked very good, and he made some very good pitches when he needed to make them. And Rafael Montero was successful in his 2015 debut, pitching two scoreless innings and looking much more like the pitcher the Mets have always hoped he would be than the one who struggled a bit in his major league debut last year.
Perhaps this loss is an easier pill to swallow because Matt Harvey is set to make his very-long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery a little after one in the afternoon tomorrow. The Mets have faced two of the better pitchers in baseball and have a 1-1 record so far. They’ll face another tough one tomorrow in Stephen Strasburg, but they’ll have one of the very, very best on the mound for them in the process.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Rafael Montero, +6.3% WPA, Travis d’Arnaud, +6.2% WPA
Big losers: Curtis Granderson, -16.9% WPA, Michael Cuddyer, -14.6% WPA, Lucas Duda, -10.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Travis d’Arnaud’s run-scoring single in the second, +10.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman’s two-run home run in the first, -20.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +9.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: -59.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Ryan Zimmerman