Matt Harvey is the New York Mets’ young ace who receives most of the publicity, but Zack Wheeler is making sure no one forgets there’s another up-and-coming pitcher to help guide the franchise into hopefully better days.
Wheeler looks to remain unbeaten on the road as he faces the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.
Headlines regarding the Mets often involve Harvey, the 24-year-old who started the All-Star Game earlier this month in New York and is among the major league leaders with a 2.11 ERA.
Wheeler (4-1, 3.72 ERA) may not be receiving as much attention, but he’s pitched nearly as well as Harvey lately. The prized rookie is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA over his last four starts after giving up four runs - three earned - in six innings of Thursday’s 7-4 win over Atlanta.
He had allowed nine runs in the two starts - both Mets losses - before this unbeaten run.
”I’m starting to feel a little bit more comfortable with my mechanics. I’ve just got to trust my stuff and go after guys,” Wheeler said. ”I’ve just got to get ahead and start setting guys up. It’s a lot easier when you do that.”
While the 23-year-old right-hander has had some success to begin his career, manager Terry Collins knows he isn’t even close to a finished product despite opponents hitting only .114 off Wheeler with runners in scoring position.
”He’s a work in progress, but I’ll tell you one thing: The sky’s the limit with him,” Collins said. “He’s got plus stuff. He’s tougher than people give him credit for. He’s going to be fine, but he’s got to make some adjustments.”
Wheeler hasn’t faced Miami in his seven-start career, but he’s 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four road outings. He’ll look to improve that mark after the Mets (47-56) ended a five-game skid versus the Marlins with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory in Monday’s series opener.
Daniel Murphy, hitting .483 with two homers and 11 RBIs over his last seven games, drove in three runs for New York, which was outscored 20-3 while dropping the final three of a four-game series with Washington over the weekend.
“(I’m) just seeing the ball a little bit better. I don’t know, it’s baseball,” Murphy said. ”Sometimes you get beat up and sometimes you don’t.”
The Marlins (40-64) had won five of seven prior to Monday’s defeat. Rookie third baseman Ed Lucas hit his second career homer, and catcher Jeff Mathis drove in two runs.
“We were one big hit away from winning it,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We were one hit away from playing extra innings.”
Miami will look to bounce back with help from Nathan Eovaldi, who has allowed three runs or fewer six times in seven starts since coming off the disabled list June 18.
After giving up six runs in four innings of a 6-0 loss to Milwaukee on July 20, Eovaldi (2-1, 3.54) bounced back by allowing three hits in six scoreless frames of Miami’s 5-3 win over Colorado on Thursday. He had his outing cut short, though, due to a 93-minute rain delay after just 78 pitches.
“It’s disappointing since I was throwing so good, but (I’m) still pleased with the outing,” Eovaldi said.
The right-hander made four starts versus the Mets last season, going 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA.
Murphy is 4 for 8 with two doubles off Eovaldi.