Wheeler takes the hill Sunday as the Mets and Nationals complete their three-game series in the nation's capital.New York (20-22) dropped Friday's opener 5-2, marking its ninth consecutive defeat against Washington and extending its overall losing streak to three. It got on the board early Saturday, though, scoring three in the first inning before Juan Lagares hit a two-run homer in the third for a 5-2 victory.Lagares, who also had an RBI single in the first before robbing Jayson Werth of a homer in the sixth in center field, entered in a 5-for-27 (.185) slump and had been benched for the last two games."I just tried to be positive, tried to do my work in the cage and tried to be ready for my opportunity," Lagares said. "I think that's the key, be positive and keep working. That's all we can control in the game."Wheeler (1-3, 4.53 ERA), winless in his last five starts since beating Arizona on April 14, is looking to get back on track after another rough outing.The right-hander has pitched fewer than five innings in two of his last three starts, including giving up five runs and walking six over 4 1/3 innings of the Mets' 12-7 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.Wheeler went 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA in nine road starts as a rookie last season, but he's just 1-2 with a 5.26 ERA in five outings away from home in 2014."He just didn't have any consistent release point (or) feel for where the ball was going," manager Terry Collins said after Wheeler threw a career-high 118 pitches Tuesday.Wheeler tossed 114 pitches April 3 against Washington, allowing three runs in six innings of an 8-2 loss. He's 1/3 with a 4.07 ERA in four starts against the Nationals, who had won three of four prior to Saturday's defeat.Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer in the fourth and has two home runs and seven RBIs while hitting .318 over his last six. He entered that stretch with a .214 average."We just couldn't recover from that deficit today," manager Matt Williams said. "It's hard to do on a consistent basis."The Nationals (22-20) had a 3.03 ERA that ranked third in the majors May 7, but they've posted a 4.52 mark over their last eight. Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound in this contest looking to improve on that mark after a rough outing of his own.Zimmermann (2-1, 3.59) pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings over his previous two starts -- one interrupted by a rain delay -- before giving up five runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings as Washington rallied for a 6-5 win over Arizona on Monday.The right-hander went 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA over his previous five starts and believed he had solid stuff against the Diamondbacks."I felt pretty strong out there," Zimmermann said. "The velocity was good. My misses were down the middle."He is 2/3 with a 2.64 ERA in his last 10 starts against the Mets, allowing three runs or fewer nine times but receiving a total of 16 runs of support in that span.
Zack Wheeler is walking batters in 13.3 percent of the plate appearances that he ends by throwing a fastball, which is nearly five percentage points more than the league average. Jayson Werth has a chase percentage of just 19.3 against fastballs, which is 5.4 percentage points better than the league average.