Mancuso: Mets Starting To See The Real Zack

The Mets feel there is closure after their latest turmoil with Matt Harvey apologizing to ownership, manager Terry Collins and his teammates. Tuesday night at Citi Field it was Zack Wheeler on the mound that helped with the closure leading the Mets to a 6-1 win over the lowly Giants.

And let it be known this is not the same San Francisco team that eliminated the Mets in that one-game wild card elimination last October at Citi Field. The Giants may be in more turmoil than the Mets with the worst record in baseball and they don’t score runs, but don’t tell that to Wheeler.

On a night the closure was needed, Zack Wheeler tossed 6.0 innings and allowed one run for his second win of the season. The velocity and command were there and Collins said, “He took a giant step forward.” The Mets need these type of innings from Wheeler and with Noah Syndergaard out for the next few months this would be a welcome reprieve for that once and dominant pitching rotation.

But the realization is simple. This was as good as it gets and Wheeler said he could have stayed on the mound another inning. But Collins went to the bullpen and the Mets gave their righthander enough run support and early.

The pitching has been a question but the Mets offense has offered that optimism. They scored four runs in the first inning and have put a run on the board in eight of their last nine games in the opening frame.  That is always an incentive for the starter and that put Wheeler in an immediate position to throw his pitches with that early and comfortable lead.

There were four walks but that did not seem to bother Wheeler.  And it was reason for more smiles to be seen around that Mets postgame clubhouse. They know if Wheeler is wheeling and dealing properly, they have the efficient starting pitcher that is needed at a time when Harvey needs to prove himself.

“I did have four walks but that’s the best I felt all season,” Wheeler said. This was his first win at home since August 15, 2014 against the Cubs and his second start this season allowing one or fewer runs, the fourth such start by a Mets starter.  Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are the others with one or fewer runs.

This is a season of the  Zack Wheeler arrival, his first since 2014 after a long recovery from Tommy John Surgery. The Giants were the team that let him go when the Mets traded away Carlos Beltran in in July of 2011 and their first round pick had that lively arm including a nasty curveball.

That pitch according to catcher Rene Rivera had a purpose. Basically, it was the command of all the pitches. He gave up two hits and a run and again these were the struggling Giants and that one blemish was a solo home run in the fourth inning off the bat of Buster Posey.   

“I would have liked to have gone a little deeper,” said Wheeler. It was good enough for Collins who needed to see his team get more closure with the Matt Harvey issue now in the past.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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