WASHINGTON — The only flaw was easily forgivable.
The Mets bullpen capped off a well-launched 5-1 victory over the Nationals on opening night as four relievers worked an inning each and laid out the perfect plan not to overload the rotation, which is without Jacob deGrom.
After starter Tyler Megill pitched five scoreless innings, Trevor May, Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz took the rubber in succession. The only run allowed was on Juan Soto’s bomb in the second deck into May’s right field in the sixth inning.
“We try to bring everyone [involved]”, said director Buck Showalter. “I don’t know what the next few days will bring. Not too much, but we will try to get everyone out.
In some ways, hitting a solo home run for MLB’s best player when he’s pitching with a 4-0 lead actually beats letting Soto potentially start a rally. The rally still nearly came after Josh Bell and Keibert Ruiz chained back-to-back singles, but May slipped away when Lane Thomas bounced into a defender’s pick.
Lugo walked Soto four pitches in the eighth, which could be a glimpse of Mets strategy over the next three games and Nationals opponents in general over the next 161 games.
May, Lugo and Diaz were all part of a Mets bullpen that last season hit a 3.90 ERA, ninth-best in MLB. Ottavino had an enjoyable debut after his career had plummeted over the past two seasons. Ottavino, Lugo and Diaz held the Nationals without a hit after the sixth.
“Awesome [job]”, Megill said. “We had a big lead and they did exactly what they had to do: come in, throw strikes and fill in.”
Ottavino, who signed a one-year, $4 million contract in the offseason, retired the team in order with two strikeouts in the seventh. The 36-year-old right-hander threw a career-best 1.90 ERA with the 2019 Yankees but lost his setup spot with a 5.89 ERA over 24 games in 2020. The Yankees have maintained so little confidence in Ottavino that he was traded to the rival Red Sox, where he threw a 4.21 ERA last season.
Diaz, who entered a no-save situation, finished the game to start on a high after posting a 3.45 ERA and 32 saves last season. He struck out three consecutive batters after a first walk.
New York Post