Zack Wheeler pitched six scoreless innings in his Major League Baseball debut as the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1 to complete a double-header sweep, and then was sent back to the minors.
Wheeler after the game was optioned to Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League by the Mets, who announced they acquired outfielder Eric Young Jr. from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Collin McHugh. The team made room on the 40-man roster by sending outfielder Collin Cowgill to the minors.
Wheeler, the top-rated prospect in the Mets’ organization, allowed four hits and issued five walks while striking out seven batters last night at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Mets pushed across two runs in the top of the seventh inning to snap a scoreless tie and added four runs in the eighth.
As Wheeler was congratulated by his parents after the game, a group of his teammates surrounded him on the field and emptied cans of soda on his head in celebration. Wheeler’s winning debut came after Matt Harvey struck out a career-high 13 batters and took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning as the Mets held off the Braves 4-3 in yesterday’s opening game.
“I’m very pleased with what I saw,” Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters last night. “People are going to enjoy watching these two young guys for a long time. You’ve got two guys who can win some baseball games for you.”
Wheeler, 23, and Harvey, 24, offer a brighter future for a franchise that has made the playoffs once in the past 13 seasons. The Mets improved to 27-40 with yesterday’s wins.
“It looks like the Mets could have the best one-two punch in MLB for years to come,” former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden said last night on Twitter.
Wheeler occasionally struggled with control, throwing 55 of his 102 pitches for strikes while walking five. He walked two batters in two of the first three innings before working out of trouble.
“I was really impressed with the way he competed after he walked a couple of guys,” Collins said of Wheeler, who in February was rated the No. 11 prospect in the minor leagues by Baseball America. “He stepped off the mound, composed himself and went after people.”
Harvey (6-1) lost his no-hit bid with no outs in the seventh inning when Jason Heyward hit a ground ball to the right of the mound that was charged by both the pitcher and Lucas Duda, playing his second game of the season at first base. Harvey appeared to field the ball with time to get the runner at first, but no one was covering the base.
Harvey walked three and allowed three hits before leaving with the bases loaded and none out in the eighth inning. He was charged with all three Atlanta runs.
Young, 28, hit .242 with one home run, six runs batted in and eight stolen bases in 57 games this season for the Rockies.
McHugh, 25, went 0-1 with a 10.29 earned run average in three games, one start, for the Mets this season, while Cowgill, 27, hit .180 in 23 games.