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The Mets came back, but fell short, in series finale with the Nationals

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Get lost, Trea Turner.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets dropped the final game of their first series of the year this afternoon, losing 6-5 to the Nationals in Washington. The team showed a lot of spunk today, but ultimately fell, due in no small part to a player who looks to be a thorn in the Mets’ side for years (and years) to come.

Zack Wheeler, after a phenomenal second half of 2018, got his 2019 campaign under way today. Today’s start was a mixture of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Wheelers, with his high pitch count reflecting his pre-2018 ways, but his ability to miss bats and stay within the strike zone was reminiscent of his successful starts of last season.

Over his five innings of work, Wheeler threw 95 pitches, 60 for strikes, striking out seven and walking just one. Aside from the third inning, which saw Victor Robles hit a hard double and Trea Turner homer, Wheeler limited the Nats to singles for the rest of the afternoon.

But the Mets proved resourceful today, not letting the early deficit limit their spark. The scoring began in the top of the third, when Pete Alonso continued his hot start by hitting his third double of the year, driving in Brandon Nimmo. Then, in the sixth, the Mets had J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto on first and third with no outs. Amed Rosario grounded into a double play, but Davis scored, to cut the deficit to two runs.

Robert Gsellman gave up the fifth run in the bottom of the sixth when Victor Robles hit his second double of the day, plating Yan Gomes. Gsellman was relieved by Luis Avilan and Tim Peterson, who combined for the final two outs of the seventh inning. Aside from the one by Wheeler, the bullpen didn’t walk a batter in their 3+ innings of work, givng up just five hits.

The eighth inning saw the Mets battle back, with singles from Robinson Cano, Conforto, Rosario, Wilson Ramos, and Juan Lagares leading to three runs scoring. The rally was killed when Dominic Smith popped up to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eight, yesterday’s victor Justin Wilson looked solid, striking out Matt Adams and Robles. He came back out for the ninth, and induced a fly out from Adam Eaton, before giving up Turner’s second home run of the day, to give the Nationals the walk off win. The ball flew off of Turner’s bat, which neither looked nor sounded much like a homer initially.

While you never like to see your team lose, the Mets showed some fight today, and the lengthened lineup, solid bullpen, and much-improved bench showed that the team has the tools to be more resilient than they were last year.

The team travels south to Miami for a three-game stand against the Marlins tomorrow. Steven Matz will make his season debut, while Caleb Smith will start for the Fish.

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Win Probability Added

Mets vs Nationals 3/31/19 Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big winners: Juan Lagares, +20.7% WPA, Pete Alonso, +10.3% WPA
Big losers: Justin Wilson, -25.6% WPA, Zack Wheeler, -21.7% WPA, J.D. Davis, -11.1% WPA, Tomas Nido, -10.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -50.9% WPA+
Total batter WPA: .9% WPA+
Teh aw3s0mest play: Juan Lagares’s eighth inning single, +23.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Trea Turner’s game winning home run, -42.0% WPA