LOS ANGELES — A nightmarish season took another stinging turn on Wednesday, when the Mets sent righthander Zack Wheeler to the 10-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
Wheeler and manager Terry Collins insisted that nothing was physically wrong on Monday, after Wheeler was pounded for seven runs in two innings, bringing his total to 15 earned runs in his last two starts. But two days later, the 27-year-old became the fifth of the Mets’ top starting pitchers to land on the disabled list.
Wheeler is expected to miss two starts at most.
“It’s not terribly serious,” said general manager Sandy Alderson, who revealed that the pitcher had undergone a battery of tests within the last 10 days that cleared him of structural damage.
Yet, Wheeler acknowledged on Wednesday that he had been dealing with a persistent soreness in his biceps. When it did not improve, he notified the team, though he had pitched through it even before he got knocked around in his last two outings.
“I sort of tried everything to clear it up but it sort of stayed with me,” Wheeler said. “I knew something like this might pop up just being away for two years.”
Until his recent skid, Wheeler had pitched well after a two-year absence after Tommy John surgery. In 13 starts, he is 3-5 with a 5.29 ERA, though that figure has risen from 3.45 in his last two starts.
Collins said Wheeler’s recent lack of command is likely related to the biceps condition.
“I don’t want to make that for an excuse,” Wheeler said. “But it’s been there, and I’ve been able to pitch, I’ve been out there every time. If I felt I was going to hurt the team, I wouldn’t have went out. I felt fine physically so I went out there.”
In addition to sending Wheeler to the DL, the Mets promoted righthanders Tyler Pill and Erik Goeddel from Triple-A Las Vegas. Pill started Wednesday night against the Dodgers, and is in contention along with righthander Rafael Montero to take over Wheeler’s spot in the rotation.
Goeddel will be available as an extra arm out of the bullpen. Infielder Matt Reynolds was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Mets (31-39) began play on Wednesday night 11 games out of a playoff spot, and a season-worst eight games under the .500 mark. Much of the blame can be traced to a pitching staff that has crumbled after injuries to ace Noah Syndergaard and closer Jeurys Familia.
“Sometimes, you just can’t help guys getting hurt,” said Wheeler, who defended the team’s embattled training staff. “I know fans are frustrated and stuff like that. But sometimes you just can’t help that kind of stuff.”
The recent downturn prompted Collins to address the team recently. The manager grew animated when asked particularly about showings against the Nationals and Dodgers, a pair of playoff caliber teams.
“We’re going to fight back,” Collins said. “We’re not packing it in. We’ll fight back.”
Slugger Jay Bruce acknowledged a sense of urgency in the clubhouse.
“I’m not looking at this through rose-colored glasses because we’re way back in the standings for both [the division and wild card],” Bruce said. “We’ve got to get going. That’s just the bottom line. There’s no sugarcoating it. I think everyone in here knows that. There’s no time to waste.”