Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Zack Wheeler each pitching Sunday

Matt Harvey pitches against the San Francisco Giants

Matt Harvey pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park. (July 31, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO -- Three-fifths of what the Mets hope will be their future starting rotation will be pitching for the organization Sunday.

At 1 p.m., Zack Wheeler will make his first Triple-A start at Buffalo against Syracuse.

At 4 p.m., Matt Harvey will make his third major-league start against the Padres in San Diego.

At 5 p.m., Johan Santana will make a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones against the visiting Auburn Doubledays.

If everything goes as the Mets hope, Santana will front a 2013 rotation that includes R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Harvey and -- at some point in the summer -- Wheeler.

Harvey, the 23-year-old righthander who has dazzled in his first two starts, will make his Citi Field debut Friday. Santana will follow him Saturday if all goes well Sunday night.

Wheeler, a 22-year-old righthander the Mets acquired from the Giants for Carlos Beltran last July, is "unlikely" to pitch in the major leagues this season, general manager Sandy Alderson said the other day. Wheeler went 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 116 innings for Double-A Binghamton.

"I just think as we look down the road, there's some bright spots," manager Terry Collins said of the organization's young pitching.

Said David Wright: "What I'm concerned about is right here, but from what I understand, Wheeler's got tremendous stuff. So I'm excited to see what he has to offer. I've never seen him pitch, but from what I understand, he's the real deal. And it'll be a big boost when we can get Johan back. And Harvey's got dominant stuff."

Harvey and Wheeler met for the first time in March after Harvey was sent to the minor-league camp following a stint in big-league spring training. Harvey said they got to know each other "a little bit," and he appreciated when Wheeler put up a Twitter post congratulating Harvey on getting called up to the big leagues for the first time last month.

Harvey (1-1, 1.59 ERA) actually has more of a relationship with Santana. The youngster picked the two-time Cy Young Award winner's brain in the spring after initially sneaking peeks during Santana's bullpen sessions.

"Just watching him and watching his bullpens and things like that, it's hard not to watch and soak everything up that he does and that he says," Harvey said. "At the time, I was still getting a feel for my changeup and I was asking him every day, 'How do you do it? What do you do?' He's just a freak athlete, almost, and it's hard to put yourself on a level of things that he does because he's so good at everything. He's awesome to watch.

"He's an extremely nice guy, so he says hi to everybody. I think we were in the training room one day and just making some small talk. After a couple times of that, I just went up and asked him, 'Hey, how do you do this? How do you do that? When this happens, what do you do?' He's obviously a huge impact on this team and I think everybody's looking forward to him coming back."

Santana's start for Brooklyn comes as he tries to make it back from the disabled list. He has been out since July 21 because of an ankle sprain, and the Mets didn't mind giving Santana's surgically repaired shoulder some rest, too.

Santana is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA. The Mets are looking forward to having him back on the mound and in the clubhouse for the rest of the season.

"When Johan's back in the clubhouse, Matt Harvey should start to spend a little time just to hear the philosophy of how Johan pitches," Collins said. "Because at one time, he had from the left side the kind of stuff that we see out of Matt Harvey from the right side. He knows how to use it and what to do with it. I think he's got a lot to offer Matt. When he gets to influence Zack, I'm not sure when that will be."

Maybe next year? The Mets certainly hope so.

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