Phillies-Mets Preview

While a fellow up-and-coming starter has taken the Big Apple by

storm, rookie Zack Wheeler is starting to garner some well deserved

acclaim, too.

Seeking a third straight win, Wheeler takes the mound opposite

Cliff Lee as the New York Mets open a four-game set against the

visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night.

After posting a 5.06 ERA in his first three starts, the

23-year-old Wheeler (6-2, 3.49 ERA) has compiled a 5-1 record and a

3.02 ERA in nine outings since the start of July.

“When I first came up, I think I was trying to do a little too

much, trying to make guys chase rather than just relying on a good,

quality pitch,” Wheeler told MLB’s official website. “It’s starting

to work here and I’m trying to continue that.”

Still pitching in the shadow of Mets All-Star starter Matt

Harvey, Wheeler has gone at least six innings in a season-best

three straight starts and has four walks in that span – he averaged

3.1 in his first nine outings.

After striking out a career-high 12 in a 4-1 win at San Diego on

Aug. 15, Wheeler allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings to beat

Atlanta 5-3 on Tuesday.

“That’s what I like about the days he pitches. He competes,”

manager Terry Collins said. “… I’m very impressed with the way he

went about things. The more he pitches, the better he’s going to

get.”

The right-hander also earned high praise from Braves outfielder

Jason Heyward.

“‘Wild effective’ really fits the description of it,” Heyward

said. “He’s just around the plate enough, and his fastball is

electric enough with the movement. It’s tough to square up.”

Wheeler struggled in his only matchup versus Philadelphia

(59-71), yielding two runs and seven hits in a season low-tying 4

2-3 innings in a 5-4 win July 20.

Lee (10-6, 3.16), meanwhile, will again try to snap a

season-worst four-game losing streak. He’s gone winless in his last

six starts while getting a combined eight runs of support.

The All-Star left-hander has a 4.62 ERA in that span but pitched

well Wednesday, surrendering two runs in seven innings in a 4-3

walkoff win over Colorado.

He mostly had the Mets’ number over his career, going 5-1 with a

2.09 ERA in his first nine starts against them, before getting

tagged for five runs in six innings of a 5-0 road loss July 21 in

the most recent matchup.

Lee could have an easier time Monday against a Mets team that

has been outscored 24-5 during a four-game losing streak. New York

(58-70) was swept by Detroit over the weekend, falling 11-3 in

Sunday’s finale.

The Mets failed to get much going aside from rookie Travis

d’Arnaud’s first career homer.

“Right now we are not swinging the bats very well,” Collins

said.

The Phillies have won six of eight after taking two of three

from Arizona. Roy Halladay returned from the disabled list to throw

six strong innings in Sunday’s 9-5 victory, giving Philadelphia its

second straight series win and third in 11 tries since the All-Star

break.

Darin Ruf has paced the offense of late, going 8 for 25 with

three homers and six RBIs over the last five games. His nine homers

since Aug. 2 lead the NL.