Alex Wood is trying to show the Atlanta Braves he's capable of earning a spot in their banged-up rotation.
Zack Wheeler is just trying to show the New York Mets some consistency.
A day after the Braves lost Tim Hudson to a broken ankle, Wood gets the ball in place of another injured starter as the Braves attempt to solve Wheeler in the finale of this four-game series at Citi Field on Thursday.
Atlanta (57-44) has been without sinkerballer Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) all season, and they've lost two more starters in Hudson and Paul Maholm (wrist contusion) this week.
Hudson became the latest injured Brave during Wednesday's 8-2 win over the Mets (44-53). The veteran right-hander was covering first on a close play in the eighth inning when New York's Eric Young stepped on his ankle, resulting in a gruesome injury in which Hudson collapsed to the ground before being carted off.
"It's terrible," second baseman Dan Uggla said. "That's a big blow."
Hudson's injury, which could rule him out for the season, may put more of an onus on Wood (0-2, 2.45 ERA) to claim a spot in the rotation. The 22-year-old rookie left-hander was already scheduled to replace Maholm, who was placed on the disabled Monday.
Wood, however, will need to show improvement since he was charged with a 4-3 loss to the Mets in his only career start June 18. He gave up one run with five strikeouts and three walks in three innings while throwing 73 pitches in the first game of a doubleheader.
"It's his second start in the big leagues," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team's official website. "I think this will be a little more comfortable start."
Wood's other 15 games for the Braves came in relief, but he's 5-2 with a 1.31 ERA in 11 starts in the minors. He allowed one run and three hits with five strikeouts while hitting two batters in five innings for Triple-A Gwinnett last Thursday, an outing designed to prepare him for this opportunity.
The Mets will counter Wood with Wheeler (3-1, 3.58), who is facing the Braves for the first time since beating them in the second game of the June 18 twinbill. The 23-year-old right-hander from nearby Smyrna, Ga., was terrific in Atlanta, striking out seven in six scoreless innings while walking five and giving up four hits in a 6-1 win to help the Mets complete the sweep.
Wheeler, though, hasn't been very sharp in two home starts, going 0-1 while surrendering seven runs and 13 hits - two homers - while fanning 10 and walking four in 9 1-3 innings.
"You're in the big leagues, you want consistency," Wheeler told the team's official website. "You're a starting pitcher, you want consistency."
Marlon Byrd is 10 for 27 (.370) over his last seven games with Atlanta, and his two hits Wednesday continued his surge this month. He's batting .329 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 19 games.
The right fielder had an RBI single in his only at-bat versus Wood on June 18.
Uggla has a .419 average over his last nine visits to Flushing and is 4 for 7 with a homer and three RBIs in the past two games. He doubled in three at_bats versus Wheeler.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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