Mets’ Zack Wheeler earns win in major-league debut

 

Zack Wheeler pitched six shutout innings and earned the win in his major-league debut as the Mets swept a day-night doubleheader from Atlanta.

Wheeler struggled with command, but consistently pitched out of trouble in a scoreless game. Eventually, the Mets’ offense broke through in the 6-1 victory.

“I was really impressed with how he competed even after he walked people,” manager Terry Collins said. “A lot of people at this level think you have to trick people and he didn’t; he went right at them. … Big ace pitchers they have the ability to reach down deep inside when they need big outs.”

In a season — and succession of seasons — where the Mets had little to be excited about, Tuesday’s sweep by Matt Harvey and Wheeler was truly encouraging.

“It was definitely an experience,” Wheeler said. “I had some jitters going at first but then I settled down a bit.”

Harvey struck out a career-high 13 batters in a 4-3 win in the afternoon tilt.

Wheeler, the top pitching prospect in the Mets’ system and No. 8 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, made his much-anticipated major-league debut in front of a large contingent of family and friends. He is a native of Smyrna, Ga., just 10 miles northwest of Atlanta.

He didn’t quite live up to the explosive, 11-strikeout debut of Harvey last July, but Wheeler was impressive. He struck out seven batters and finished strong. Wheeler walked two batters in both the first and third innings, but allowed just four baserunners over the next three innings.

Wheeler consistently threw his fastball at 97 mph, but struggled with location of his breaking ball. He came out of the game after six innings and 102 pitches.

“He’s got a great arm, that’s obvious. [But] he’s going to need secondary stuff,” Collins said. “[Pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] likes his slider better than his curveball. … But he’s going to have to throw them for strikes.”

Anthony Recker provided the first offense of the game with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning. The Mets tacked on four insurance runs in the eighth inning on four hits and two errors.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.



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