PHILADELPHIA — He didn’t get the win, and he wasn’t even the best starting pitcher in the game, but Zack Wheeler pitched well again Thursday, holding the Phillies to one run and two hits in six innings.
That, along with his seven innings of one-run ball against the Cubs last week, make for a noteworthy development for Wheeler, who for much of the season has felt better on the mound than his results would suggest.
Wheeler (4.51 ERA) said he feels like he is trending in the right direction “for the most part.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Wheeler said. “I do feel comfortable out there right now. I’m able to consistently hit my spots. That makes it a lot easier. Having offspeed there also makes it a lot easier. Everything is starting to come around.”
Scott Kingery, Wheeler’s first batter of the game, singled on a grounder through the right side. That was the only hit he allowed until the sixth, when Bryce Harper walloped a 438-foot homer to center for the first run of the game.
Not particularly efficient, needing 107 pitches in his six frames, Wheeler got burned by a pair of 10-pitch leadoff walks: to Andrew Knapp in the third and Rhys Hoskins in the fourth. The latter was followed by three consecutive first-pitch outs. Wheeler struck out seven and walked two.
Wheeler’s progress raises the question: How much longer will he be with the Mets? Scheduled to reach free agency this winter, Wheeler is likely the Mets’ most attractive trade option, should they decide to become sellers leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
“You always wonder about that when you’re in this position,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “That would be unfortunate, if we had to see some of our teammates go somewhere else because we’re not getting it done.”
Robinson Cano sat Thursday for a scheduled day off, Callaway said, noting that it was hard to rest the second baseman because “he’s showing signs of life at the plate.” Cano’s pinch-hit strikeout in the Mets’ loss to the Phillies wrapped up his 5-for-37 (.135) road trip…Jeff McNeil had 162 hits in his first 475 at-bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most to begin a career since Hall of Famer Wade Boggs had 166 hits in his first 475 at-bats from 1982-1983.
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