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 Phillies announced that they’ve optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Nerris, who saved 26 games as the Phillies closer in 2017 and ten games in that role this year, has struggled this year, posting a 6.00 ERA in 30 appearances. While his strikeout and walk rates aren’t too far off what he was doing last year his hit rate has spiked and he’s currently allowing 10.3 safeties per nine. The wheels have come off of late, as he has allowed nine runs on 15 hits — five of them homers — over his last eight innings of work. Yesterday he allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a game the Phillies had led by five.
It was clear that Gabe Kapler had lost faith in Neris as a result, using him almost exclusively in low-leverage situations. That changed on Saturday, as Kapler used him in a save situation and said after the game that they were easing him back into his role. That plan obviously changed after yesterday’s meltdown.
Seranthony Dominguez had been getting the call in save situations. He’ll get them more now.