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Nationals 5, Mets 1—A good return spoiled

deGrom looks solid in return before bullpen—relatively unfortified at trade deadline—implodes in sixth.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The optimistic Mets fan could walk away from this game with the obvious glass half-full takeaway. The lead story of the game was of course the return of the best pitcher in the game, Jacob deGrom. Making his first start in 391 days, deGrom flashed his otherworldly form in the first, hitting 102 on the radar gun and retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts.

deGrom tired a bit early, surrendering a single followed by an RBI double by Luis Garcia in the fourth. However, he battled out of trouble in big part thanks to a clutch strikeout of Nelson Cruz with a man on third and one out in the inning. deGrom’s five inning, one run, six strikeout performance—and his seemingly intact health—would have to qualify the day as an unqualified success for the optimist.

Of course, the optimistic Mets fan may well be an urban legend. On a day that saw the team make at best incremental additions at the margins—while their potential playoff opponents made moves ranging from major in the case of the Braves to historic in the case of the Padres—watching the team’s offense seemingly instinctively shut down at the sign of deGrom on the hill, followed by its unimproved bullpen imploding immediately after deGrom’s departure took at least some of the luster off deGrom’s return.

After the team’s offense was stagnant against Cory Abbott, Francisco Lindor led off the sixth against Victor Areno with a home run to tie the game at one, getting deGrom off the hook. Unfortunately, Stephen Nogosek and Yoan Lopez combined to surrender three home runs and four runs to the depleted, Juan Soto-less Nationals lineup in the sixth and seventh as the Mets went down to a surprisingly desultory defeat in deGrom’s return.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +15.5 WPA
Big Mets loser: Stephen Nogosek, -31.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: -21.0% WPA
Mets hitters: -29.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco Lindor solo home run in the top of the sixth, +16.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Luis Garcia two run home run in the bottom of the sixth, -25.4% WPA