Following a promising debut, top prospect Zack Wheeler hasn't been quite as sharp for the New York Mets.
Perhaps a date with one of the worst teams in baseball can boost his confidence.
The Mets will try to begin a nine-game road trip in positive fashion Friday night when they send the hard-throwing right-hander to the mound against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers.
While he hasn't made it out of the sixth inning in his last two starts, Wheeler (1-1, 5.06 ERA) may have to pick up a tired New York bullpen in this contest following Thursday's 5-4, 15-inning loss to Arizona. That four-game set, which also included a 13-inning game, saw Mets relievers throw a combined 20 innings.
"It's tough not to come up on top there at the end, but it's a 162-game season and we've got to bring it tomorrow," said Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who homered in the 14th to tie Thursday's game.
Wheeler struck out seven over six shutout innings in a 6-1 victory over Atlanta on June 18 to win his big league debut, but he's since allowed nine runs and 10 hits - three homers - over 10 innings.
"He's a work in progress and his future is bright and his ceiling is high," manager Terry Collins said after Wheeler yielded five runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 13-2 loss to Washington on Sunday.
Wheeler may be able to bounce back as he faces an NL Central-worst Milwaukee team still waiting for sluggers Corey Hart (knee) and Ryan Braun (thumb) to return from the disabled list.
The Brewers (34-50), though, have shown signs of improvement without their stars.
After totaling 11 runs in its final five games of June while batting .167 with runners in scoring position, Milwaukee hit .281 in those situations and scored 18 runs in a four-game split at Washington this week.
Carlos Gomez hit his team-leading 13th home run and 18th double Thursday, but Milwaukee lost 8-5 when reliever Brandon Kintzler gave up a go-ahead, three-run homer to Wilson Ramos in the seventh inning.
Gomez might be rested in this contest after getting pulled late in the game. Manager Ron Roenicke said Gomez's bothersome shoulder had tightened up following a collision with the outfield wall, though the center fielder said he was fine.
"It surprised me when I got out of the game," said Gomez, "especially after I hit a home run."
Leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki went 8 for 20 with three RBIs in the series with the Nationals. He hit .353 against the Mets last season as the Brewers won three of five meetings.
New York's Daniel Murphy went 8 for 18 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs versus the Brewers last season. He's a career .358 hitter against them.
The Mets (35-47) had won 10 of 15 overall before dropping their last two games to the Diamondbacks to cap a 3-4 homestand.
Josh Satin has given New York a lift, hitting safely in 10 straight games and batting .414 over the last seven with seven extra-base hits and five RBIs. He's hitting .353 in 18 games since being called up from the minors.
Satin and the Mets will face right-hander Johnny Hellweg (0-1, 20.25), who makes his first career start at Miller Park.
Hellweg had a rough major league debut last Friday, getting tagged for seven runs - five earned - and six hits over 1 2-3 innings in a 10-3 loss at Pittsburgh.
He started that game but more recently pitched in relief, surrendering two runs in one inning of a 10-5 loss at Washington on Monday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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