Zack Wheeler's recent dominance is showing few signs of stopping, and another meeting with the Philadelphia Phillies may just keep him rolling.
Wheeler looks to continue the best stretch of his young career Sunday, when he goes for a third straight win over the Phillies.
Wheeler (7-8, 3.48 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his last seven starts, reaching the seventh in six of them. The 24-year-old, second-year right-hander is also 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his past five road games after going 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA over his first nine.
He battled through his latest outing Tuesday, but still yielded only one run despite allowing seven hits and four walks before being pulled with two outs in the seventh of a 6-1 win at Washington.
"That's what we talk about when we bring up the fact that he's maturing, that he's really starting to figure out what it takes here," manager Terry Collins told MLB's official website. "His command wasn't there at the beginning of the game, but he just continued to battle and stayed with it. He tried to make some big pitches and did. This kid has really, really gotten better. As he continues to improve, the sky's the limit."
Wheeler has given the Phillies a first-hand look at his capabilities, going 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA in four starts. He allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of an 11-2 win July 30, and was dominant in his only appearance at Citizens Bank Park on May 29. He fanned nine in 6 2-3 innings, yielding only a seventh-inning homer to Marlon Byrd and three other hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 victory.
The Mets (56-61) have won five straight and 11 of 12 games in Philadelphia (52-65) after Lucas Duda's RBI single provided the difference in Saturday's 2-1, 11-inning win.
"That was a good grind-out win for us," Collins said after New York improved to 6-1 in one-run games in that span at its division rival.
Juan Lagares is batting .380 in 27 career meetings with the Phillies. The center fielder has gone 11 for 25 (.440) over the past six after doubling on two of his three hits in this series.
Daniel Murphy, meanwhile, is trying to bounce back from his 0-for-5 effort after hitting .455 with 11 RBIs over the previous 13 games.
Philadelphia is batting .206 while averaging 2.8 runs in its 1-11 stretch at home versus New York, and it'll likely need to do better than that behind Kyle Kendrick (5-11, 4.74).
He's 0-2 with a 5.01 ERA over his last four starts against the Mets, and the right-hander took the loss opposite Wheeler on July 30, when he was victimized by a four-run fifth inning before leaving after the sixth.
Kendrick was much better six days later, allowing one run in seven innings of a 2-1 win in 15 against Houston.
Building on that performance may require showing improvement against Lagares, who is 6 for 8 against him. However, he's mostly dominated Duda, holding him to 4 for 23 with three doubles and a homer.
Murphy, though, is 4 for 9 with a homer off Kendrick this year.
The Associated Press News Service
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