PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It was not so long ago that Stephen Strasburg was in Zack Wheeler's shoes, lighting up radar guns and drumming up interest throughout the Grapefruit League.
Old news? Not quite. But it was Wheeler who outshined Strasburg in the Mets' 5-3 win over the Nationals on Saturday at Tradition Field, firing two scoreless innings in his spring debut.
Strasburg lit up the radar gun early, opening his first start of the preseason with seven consecutive fastballs ranging from 94-96 miles per hour. But shortstop Ruben Tejada whacked his seventh pitch over the left-center field wall for a two-run homer, giving the Mets an early lead.
In his first start since the Nationals shut him down on an innings limit early last September, Strasburg gave up no other runs in two innings. He needed 31 pitches to escape the first, but rebounded with a 1-2-3 second.
The Nationals took the lead back with three runs off Mets starter Shaun Marcum in the second inning, two of them coming on Chris Snyder's two-run homer. Marcum then gave way to Wheeler, who generated plenty of swings and misses while recording six quick outs. The rookie, who is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster, struck out two, walked one and allowed one hit.
"Just another outing for me, honestly. Yeah I'm in big league camp and I'm happy to be here, but I'm going out there competing for a job," Wheeler said.
Wheeler impressed the Nationals' Bryce Harper: "He's got some good stuff, definitely. He's exciting to watch, too. They've got [Matt] Harvey and him, two young guys that can really pitch and throw hard and have pretty good secondary stuff. It was good to face a guy like that today."
The Mets tied the game on Jordany Valdespin's RBI single off Craig Stammen in the fourth.
Mets Up Next: Harvey will make his spring debut as a Mets split squad travels to Kissimmee, Fla., on Sunday, throwing to catcher Travis d'Arnaud in a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Astros. Outfielders Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will also make the trip for the Mets, with pitchers Jon Niese and Dillon Gee staying back in Port St. Lucie for a 12:10 p.m. ET exhibition against the University of Michigan.