NEW YORK -- After his last start, Zack Wheeler wasn't sure if he would sport a Mets uniform again. With all of the trade rumors circulating and his value peaking, Wheeler was a hot commodity leading up to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. New York decided to keep him, though, and the 28-year-old is looking more and more like a promising part of the Mets' future.
Blocking out trade rumors and everything else around him to just focus on the task at hand is something Wheeler has handled well. Saturday wasn't any different.
Wheeler began his night by striking out the side in the first inning. From there, he went seven dominant innings, giving up only three hits and striking out nine in a 3-0 win over the Braves at Citi Field.
"I just go about my business and I just try to win," Wheeler said.
Winning is exactly what Wheeler has done. The victory on Saturday was Wheeler's fourth straight, which is the longest streak of his career and the longest by a Mets pitcher this season. Going back to the final four innings of his start on July 24, Wheeler is working on a career-best 17-inning scoreless streak, and over 12 starts since June 1, Wheeler is 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA. Manager Mickey Callaway credits his recent feats to his consistency.
"I saw the same stuff, the same power fastball, the same good break on his slider," Callaway said. "I think that his consistency is just allowing him to feel a little more confident each start and go out out there and put up better and better starts."
Jeff McNeil was stellar for the Mets' offense. Using an unorthodox bat that does not have a knob, McNeil went 4-for-4 with a double. He also made several impressive plays at second base that kept Wheeler's hit count at three.
The Mets took an early lead in the second inning after Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch and McNeil's double moved him to third. Amed Rosario dribbled a slow roller to the left of the pitcher's mound, and Frazier danced down the line, forcing Braves third baseman Johan Camargo to make a decision. When he threw to first, Frazier ran home, crossing the plate with ease for the first run of the game.
Four straight singles from Michael Conforto, Frazier, McNeil and Austin Jackson sparked a sixth-inning rally that tacked another Mets run onto the board. Kevin Plawecki continued the sixth-inning success, lifting a sacrifice fly that brought in Frazier.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
As the Mets' sixth-inning rally progressed and Wheeler's spot in the batting order drew nearer, there was a discussion among the coaching staff about whether they would pinch-hit for the right-hander. But the Mets plated two insurance runs by the time Wheeler got up, which gave Callaway and his staff the confidence to put the righty back in for the seventh inning.
"He had a two-hitter going, had electric stuff still and I wanted to keep him in the game as long as possible," Callaway said. "Sometimes, when the pitcher's coming up, that's a tough call. Luckily, we scored another run and we were able to send him back out there."
McNeil is the seventh Met to register a four-hit game within the first 10 games of his career. The last Met to do so was T.J. Rivera on Aug. 16, 2016.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With two outs in the seventh inning and the Braves' Freddie Freeman in scoring position following a leadoff double, Ender Inciarte lined one out to right field. Brandon Nimmo sprinted in, diving forward to make the catch that ended the inning and kept Wheeler's night spotless. According to Statcast™, Nimmo went 31 feet in 2.9 seconds, making it a three-star catch.
HE SAID IT
"It's a sneaky 98. As he elevates within in the zone, it plays up even more for him. That opens up his other weapons and makes him even more effective." -- Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, on Wheeler
Corey Oswalt will replace Steven Matz in the rotation for Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale against the Braves after Matz was placed on the disabled list with a mild left flexor-pronator strain. Oswalt has made several spot starts for the Mets this season, and he earned his first Major League win in his most recent start against the Padres on July 25. Atlanta will throw right-hander Julio Teheran, who owns a 2.33 ERA in 23 career games (22 starts) against the Mets.