The New York Mets believe Zack Wheeler will be an anchor in their rotation for a long time to come. He took the loss against Washington Wednesday night, but showed more than enough of the right stuff to say this is going to be a stud pitcher to build around.
Easily, the most important thing Wheeler demonstrated was poise under pressure. He pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first; escaped a runner on second and one-out threat in the fourth; and got out of a runners on the corners with two outs problem in the seventh.
It was great to see Wheeler challenge hitters with his fastball, especially inside. And the control issues he had earlier, well, just one walk.
“This guy competes on the mound,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “With his stuff, in first inning, he did a great job getting out of that jam. I’m impressed with the way Zack Wheeler has pitched.’’
Wheeler made one bad pitch, that being a slider left over the plate Ryan Zimmerman crushed for a homer in the sixth. It was the first homer he gave up in 36 innings, remarkable for a rookie.
Offensively, the Mets managed three hits as they were shut out for the second time in this series. With the loss the Mets fell a season-low 16 games below .500. It wasn’t too long ago .500 and catching the Nationals for second-place wasn’t an unrealistic goal.
Oh, by the way, with the loss the Mets were mathematically eliminated, crushing news, I know, to those who kept on dreaming.
Once again the Mets are in full swoon mode, especially offensively, in the second half. They have lost three straight, five of their last six games, and are 2-8 so far this month.
Including the Nationals Thursday, the Mets have just four games against winning teams (three with Cincinnati) the rest of the season.
Collins didn’t say the word, but he might as well called his offense clueless.
“You have to figure out what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out,’’ Collins said. “And you have to make adjustments.’’
Clearly, the Mets aren’t making those adjustments.
Newly-acquired Aaron Harang will start for the Mets Thursday afternoon in an effort to avoid the sweep.
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