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Sunday Wheeler-Nats storylines

A few statistical storylines for Zack Wheeler’s third start with the Mets:

Lack of a finish

The biggest difference between Wheeler’s first start and his second—the lack of a putaway pitch the second time out.

Zack Wheeler – 2013 Season

Wheeler got to two strikes on 11 hitters in his debut against the Braves and retired nine of them. He got to two strikes against 13 White Sox hitters, but retired only eight.

Braves hitters fouled off only four two-strike pitches from Wheeler, but White Sox hitters fouled off 15.

The Walks

Zack Wheeler has walked eight batters through his first two games, one shy of the Mets record for walks in a pitcher’s first two games. That mark is shared by Juan Berenguer, Walt Terrell and Bill Pulsipher. Terrell and Pulsipher share the mark through three games (14).

Matchups to Watch

The biggest challenge for Wheeler on Sunday will be Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche has been one of baseball’s best hitters against pitches thrown at least 95 mph. Since the start of last season, his seven homers against pitches that speed or faster is the most in the majors.

The two active Nationals with the highest batting averages against right-handers this season are Anthony Rendon and Denard Span, but Mets righties have shut them down. Rendon is 1-for-15 against Mets right-handers. Span is 5-for-23.

The other guy on the mound

Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez has produced a run of nine starts in which he has a 2.25 ERA, but is only 1-1 during that span with seven no-decisions. In six of those nine starts, the Nationals scored three runs or fewer for him.

Gonzalez has made six starts against the Mets in the last three seasons and has allowed one run in four of them. The other two he allowed five and six runs, including his most-recent appearance on April 20.

The History

There have been 17 Mets pitchers to allow no runs or one run in their third career major league appearance. Among them are two very prominent names: Nolan Ryan (6 2/3 scoreless versus the Astros in 1968) and Tom Seaver (10 innings with one unearned run against the Cubs in 1967).

You could argue Seaver’s as the best No. 3 appearance in Mets history, with the other contender being one by Dennis Ribant -- a 10-strikeout, four-hit shutout against the Pirates in 1964.