The Zack Wheeler era began on a promising note.
Making his major league debut on Tuesday evening as part of a doubleheader at Atlanta’s Turner Field, the 23-year-old right-hander tossed six scoreless innings, fanning seven Braves batters and allowing just four hits. Wheeler issued a total of five walks and looked a little bit shaky early on, but he settled in quite nicely over the course of his 102 pitches.
The score was tied 0-0 when Wheeler finished pitching after the bottom of the sixth inning, but backup catcher Anthony Recker slugged a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Mets the offensive spark that would lead to a 6-1 victory.
New York also won the first half of Tuesday’s doubleheader — a Matt Harvey outing.
Wheeler will make his second major league start Tuesday night in Chicago against the White Sox. He was acquired from the Giants around the 2011 trade deadline in exchange for outfielder Carlos Beltran.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.