Julio Teheran is among the Atlanta Braves’ most promising pitchers and Zack Wheeler is looking every bit like one for the New York Mets.
In the first matchup between two of baseball’s top young arms, Teheran will try to halt the Braves’ three-game slide Wednesday night in the middle game of this series at Citi Field.
A first-time All-Star this year, Teheran (12-9, 2.96 ERA) leads Atlanta (68-64) starters in ERA, strikeouts (156) and innings pitched (182 2-3).
The right-hander has rebounded from a three-start losing streak with wins in consecutive outings, allowing two runs and eight hits in 12 innings. He pitched four-hit ball over six innings in an 8-0 victory at Cincinnati on Thursday. His biggest challenge was staying loose while the Braves sent 11 batters to the plate during a five-run third.
"It was difficult," Teheran said. "I was trying to stay warm and trying to stay loose."
A similar issue doesn’t seem likely with the Mets (62-70) turning to Wheeler (9-8, 3.48), who is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA over his last 10 starts while winning all four at home behind a 2.05 ERA.
The second-year right-hander, though, failed to complete six innings for the first time during that stretch, but still managed an 8-5 win at Oakland. He allowed four runs – two earned – and four hits before he was pulled with two outs in the sixth.
Wheeler’s recent success is attributed to mixing up his pitches and gaining confidence in his changeup.
"This guy is throwing 97 mph, you better speed your bat up to get to it," manager Terry Collins told MLB’s official website. "And so if he’s willing to use his changeup, you’re going to get swings and misses or you’re going to get little ground balls. It’s a good pitch for him. It’s getting better for him because he’s throwing it more."
Wheeler is 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA in six starts against the Braves. He didn’t get a decision in his most recent June 30, but the 5-3 road loss kicked off his personal unbeaten stretch as he allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings.
He’s making his first start opposite Teheran, who was hit hard in an 8-3 loss at New York on July 8. He surrendered five runs and 11 hits over 3 1-3 innings to match the shortest start of his career.
Teheran was 1-0 with a 1.37 ERA over his three previous starts against New York, and the Braves hope he can regain that form after dropping the series opener 3-2 on Tuesday.
Justin Upton had three hits, including a run-scoring double. The left fielder is batting .379 with five homers, 21 RBIs and 10 walks in 16 games.
He’s also 14 for 34 (.412) in eight road games against the Mets this year, but he’s 0 for 15 with six strikeouts versus Wheeler.
Freddie Freeman, though, is 6 for 11 with a homer, a double and six walks against him. The All-Star first baseman’s success isn’t limited to facing Wheeler, as he’s hitting .447 in his past 11 road meetings with the Mets.
It’s unclear if New York will have David Wright (neck) and Daniel Murphy (calf) back after they both sat out the series opener.
New York’s Juan Lagares is 7 for 14 with two homers and six RBIs in four games after hitting a two-run shot Tuesday.