Two batters into Zack Wheeler’s first outing on a big league mound, the Nationals had a runner on third with one out. The Mets pulled the infield in, looking to cut the run off at the plate, so the percentage play for catcher John Buck was to call for fastballs down in the strike zone, trying to keep the ball out of the air.

Instead he went up the ladder, mostly on a gut feeling that the Nationals’ Tyler Moore wouldn’t be able to catch up with Wheeler’s 95 mph fastball.

Sure enough, Wheeler struck out Moore, and then Chad Tracy as well, and the highly touted righthander was quickly living up to all the hype, going on to pitch two scoreless innings.

But it was also a showcase for Buck’s veteran presence behind the plate. Highly touted Travis d’Arnaud should take over as the Mets’ No. 1 catcher sometime this season, but for the moment, Buck’s handling of pitchers could be crucial to the development of the Mets’ young staff.

“That’s why they targeted me,” Buck said on Saturday. “You have to know how you’re going to get the most out of your pitchers, and you have to have a feel for calling pitches.