For the 38th time in their past 50 Opening Days, the Mets left the field with one in the win column. Like so many Opening Day victories before, the Mets were aided by the impeccable performance of their pitching staff headed by the reigning Cy Young winner in Jacob deGrom. Between deGrom and Scherzer’s face off and the battle between Justin Verlander and Blake Snell in Tampa, today marked the second time in history that all of the top four vote-getters for the Cy Young would face each other on Opening Day.
What Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom did in 2018 might be extremely impressive, what they both did this afternoon wasn’t anything to sneeze at. With 22 strikeouts between them, the duo became the first pair of Opening Day starters to strike out at least 10 batters apiece since Dave McNally and Sam McDowell in 1970.
To start off the game, Max Scherzer did what he does best and struck out Brandon Nimmo and the debuting Pete Alonso. The third batter of the game for the Mets was Robinson Cano taking his first pitches in the box as a member of the New York Mets. The first pitch that Cano made contact with as a Met carried all the way to the seats beyond the wall in left-center field. Unfortunately, that was all the Mets would get as Scherzer went on to set down the next six batters in order, four of them via the strikeout.
Not to be outdone, Jacob deGrom displayed his dominance early in the second inning. After a medicore first inning in which he allowed a single to Trea Turner and walked Juan Soto, deGrom hit his stride in his second time out. Yan Gomes, Brian Dozier, and Max Scherzer were all set down on strikes with only 13 pitches needed to take down the trio.
The third inning was, by far, the worst of the afternoon for deGrom. Things immediately started off spookily as Victor Robles lined a double to left and Adam Eaton quickly followed up with a single to put men on the corners with none out. Trea Turner went down swinging, and then that’s when things got weird. As Anthony Rendon grounded out to third, Jeff McNeil spun the ball over to second, and at that point, Victor Robles began to dash home. As his instincts kicked in, Cano avoided the runner sliding towards his feet and flung the ball home to Wilson Ramos, sending Robles back towards third. Ramos tosses the ball to McNeil and he just barely tags the runner to record the third out of the inning with no harm done. That ended up being the first and only real threat that Jacob deGrom faced at any point in the game.
All together, in his first start of the year, Jacob deGrom got through six impressive innings with only fives hits and a walk against him. In addition to limiting the runs, deGrom struck out 10 Nationals including the two times he struck out the side in order in the second and fifth innings. With his 25th consecutive quality start in the books, deGrom is tied for the second longest quality start streak in the history of the sport, only behind Bob Gibson’s ludicrous 1968.
Following deGrom’s departure, the first of three relivers came into the game to render the Nationals hitless for the final third of the game. Much like deGrom in the second inning, Seth Lugo struck out Gomes, Dozier, and Scherzer in order.
Things really got spicy for Max Scherzer and the Nationals as the Mets began to string some baserunners together in the eighth inning. Out of the first three batters of the inning, Max Scherzer struck out two and walked one in the form of Dominic Smith. Well over 100 pitches, Scherzer was removed and Justin Miller was inserted in his place to face the top of the Mets’ order. Peter Alonso welcomed Miller to the game by dunking the first hit of his career into shallow center field. Displeased with Miller’s inability to get Alonso out, Davey Martinez came right back out and called in Matt Grace from the bullpen. Coming through for the second time in the game, Robinson Cano laced a single into left field bringing Dominic Smith home for the Mets’ second run of the game.
Following the Mets’ productive inning, we were treated to the Jeurys Familia experience for the first time in the new year. With a lot of balls sprinkled in, Familia managed to set down three of the four Nationals batters he faced, with Adam Eaton being the only man to get on base when Familia hit him with a pitch.
Edwin Diaz, the jewel of the offseason, took the mound for the Mets in the ninth and dazzled fans and teammates alike with his lethal combination of speed and movement. Following a pair of line outs by Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman, Diaz struck out Matt Adams on a check swing and inserted the game into the books.
Following an off day tomorrow, the Mets are back in action against the Nationals on Saturday afternoon as Noah Syndergaard faces off against Stephen Strasburg.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jacob deGrom +39.3% WPA, Robinson Cano +18.8% WPA, Seth Lugo +10.8% WPA
Big losers: None!!
Teh aw3s0mest play: Robinson Cano’s eighth inning RBI single, +12.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Adam Eaton’s third inning single to put runners on the corners, +8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +68.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: -18.1% WPA
GWRBI!: Robinson Cano