By Zach Gewelb
The Mets opened their season on a positive note, taking two of three games against the Braves. New York defeated Atlanta 6-0 on Opening Day before falling to the Braves 3-1 in 12 innings. The Mets took the rubber match 6-2 Thursday night to clinch the series victory.
There’s a lot to like about the Mets’ play through the first three games of the season, whether it’s the clutch hitting of Lucas Duda or Jay Bruce’s strong start. But the most important thing is perhaps something everyone has come to expect from the Mets: dominant starting pitching.
Noah Syndergaard tossed six shutout innings in the opener and Jacob deGrom followed with six scoreless frames of his own in game two. Matt Harvey was dialed in Thursday night, earning the win after allowing just two runs in 6 2/3 innings in his first Major League start since July 4, 2016.
That Syndergaard and deGrom pitched well is no surprise to anyone, but if Harvey can ride the momentum of his strong first start and re-establish himself as an ace, the Mets become even more dangerous.
New York’s bullpen also pitched well, with the exception of Rafael Montero. The righty took the loss Wednesday night, allowing two earned runs, three hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings.
Aside from Montero, the rest of the Mets’ bullpen was stellar, tossing 9 2/3 shutout innings, in which the group of Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Robert Gsellman and Addison Reed allowed just eight hits and two walks while striking out 13 batters.
If New York’s bullpen can continue to pitch at this rate, the unit figures to rank among the league’s best, especially when suspended closer Jeurys Familia returns.
Offensively, the Mets showed some ability to hit in the clutch, with Asdrubal Cabrera and Lucas Duda each recording big run-scoring hits in the opener. While the bats slowed down Wednesday — New York scored just one run on five hits in the loss — the team rebounded Thursday night with six runs, including a two-run blast from righty utility man Wilmer Flores, who started in place of Lucas Duda with a lefty on the mound.
In total, the Mets scored 13 runs in the opening series, good for 4.3 runs per game. It’s not the best mark, but it could certainly be worse. Scoring at that rate with the Mets’ electric pitching staff will lead to a lot of victories for New York.
Moving forward, New York continues its home stand with a three-game series against the Miami Marlins, starting Friday night.
Zack Wheeler will start for the Mets, making his first big league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery Sept. 25, 2014. He’ll face off against Wei-Yin Chin. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. at Citi Field.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe