Just in time for the trade deadline, Zack Wheeler is scheduled to return from the injured list to start for the Mets on Friday against the Pirates at Citi Field, a source said.
Wheeler felt well Monday after a bullpen session Sunday, his first after being sidelined by a right shoulder impingement last week.
On Tuesday, before the Mets open a home series against the Padres, Wheeler will throw live batting practice. He hasn’t faced hitters since July 7, when he started the final game before the All-Star break.
If he comes through the live BP all right, Wheeler will be all set for Friday, almost certainly in front of a sizeable audience of rival scouts. That will be his final start before the July 31 trade deadline, and teams interested in acquiring him will seek to evaluate his health and performance.
Wheeler, a free agent after this season, is the player the Mets are most likely to deal. Todd Frazier, who has struggled at the plate lately, and Jason Vargas are also candidates to go.
Wheeler (4.69 ERA) felt shoulder discomfort in his final two starts of the first half, he said last week. When it got worse coming out of the All-Star break, he mentioned it to Mets decision-makers, triggering an IL stint and MRI that revealed no structural damage.
In the one rotation turn Wheeler has missed, rookie righthander Walker Lockett allowed one run in five innings against the Giants on Saturday, picking up his first major-league win.
Vargas, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are lined up to face the Padres on Tuesday-Thursday.