|Julio Cortez/AP Photo|
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
It has been a rough season thus far for everyone that has any stake in the Mets. Players are struggling to perform with regulars such as Ike Davis being sent down to the minors. Terry Collins seems to be on a countdown for his days as manger of the team with it a matter of when not if he will be fired. The fans seem to have finally had their spirit broken as Citi Field is as empty as ever since it opened in 2009. The heartbreak continued even last night as Freddie Freeman hit a walk-off homerun off Dillon Gee to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. There is reason to still tune in to the Mets as the season continues though.
There is some optimism with some of the younger players that the Mets have and there is no one they are higher on than Zack Wheeler. Combined with current ace Matt Harvey the two are supposed to give the Mets the type of one-two punch that not many teams can rival in Major League Baseball. The Wheeler and Harvey era will get underway today in Atlanta as the hot shot youngsters will both toe the rubber against the Braves in the day/night doubleheader.
Harvey has been nothing short of astounding this season and since being called up last July. Harvey has really turned some heads as he is outperforming any and all expectations that were set for him. His win and loss record stands at a pedestrian eight wins and six losses but that is not because of him; the Mets just don’t give him any run support. Harvey has accumulated 172 strikeouts and a 2.30 ERA in the major leagues thus far in his 156 1/3 innings of work, including a 1.00 WHIP. You cannot ask for much more from a starting pitcher as Harvey looks to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB and has a bright future. He will take the mound for the Mets in the first game of the doubleheader this afternoon.
|AP Photo/Kathy Willens|
Wheeler will take the mound for his major league debut in the night cap and will have some tough acts to follow. He will look to continue the trend of successful Met pitching debuts, as three of the last four players to debut pitched very well. Harvey, Dillon Gee and Collin McHugh combined to allow one run and seven hits in 19 1/3 innings. Wheeler will be under immense pressure not only to live up to those debuts but pressure from media and fans; Wheeler was ranked as the 11th best prospect by Baseball America and the eighth best my MLB.com so he is expected to perform. He is considered to be a better pitcher than Harvey when both were coming through the Mets system. It will be tough to improve upon what Harvey has done or to even duplicate him.
It will not be an easy task for Wheeler to succeed right off the bat as the Braves are one of the top teams in baseball this season. Atlanta has also never been a place debuts go well for opposing pitchers. Visiting starters are 0-7 with three no decisions making their debuts at Turner Field; the 27 relievers that have made their major league debuts there have never registered a win either.
Met players who have debuted against the Braves have not yielded good results either. Three Mets have debuted against the Braves in Darrell Sutherland, Octavio Dotel, and Chris Schwinden; the trio combined to throw only 9 2/3 innings and surrendering 16 runs as all three allowed at least five.
A lot more is expected of Wheeler than of those three players so a performance closer to Harvey, Gee or McHugh can be expected than Sutherland, Dotel or Schwinden. He will most likely be on an innings limit for the season but as long as he and Harvey take the mound it gives Mets fans something to watch this season and a future to look forward to.