MIAMI — The names and faces change at Marlins Park, especially in recent months, but year after year — and injury after injury — it remains a welcoming domain for Zack Wheeler.
The Marlins’ home was the site of Wheeler’s only career complete game to date, a shutout in 2014. It was where he made his sparkling return to the majors in April after pitching himself out of the rotation in spring training. And on Friday night, Marlins Park played host to Wheeler’s latest strong outing in the Mets’ 6-2 win over Miami.
Wheeler gave up two runs, four hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out eight. The Marlins (47-70) didn’t have a baserunner until the third, a hit until the fifth or a run until the seventh. Miguel Rojas’ two-out homer in the seventh snapped his scoreless-innings streak at 23.
“When you have good numbers here, it gives you a little bit more confidence,” Wheeler said. “You still have to go out there and attack and go with the game plan, and I was able to do that today for the most part.”
Said Marlins manager Don Mattingly: “I haven’t seen him pitch that much, but that’s the best I’ve ever seen him.”
In six career starts at Marlins Park — the most for Wheeler anywhere other than Citi Field — he has a 1.55 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. Those are significantly better than Wheeler’s numbers everywhere else: 4.08 ERA, 1.40 WHIP. (It helps that the Marlins have been perennial non-contenders since Wheeler reached the majors in 2013.)
The Wheeler the Marlins saw this time was the new and improved version, throwing harder than ever and regularly mixing in a splitter as a new fourth offering. He has lasted at least seven innings in four out of his past five starts. In his past four games, he has walked only one batter per outing.
“It’s been really big, obviously, with his effectiveness,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s aggressive toward the hitters. He goes after them like he knows his stuff is better than them.”
Wheeler is up to 134 1⁄3 innings, by far his most since 2014. Despite that workload, Callaway said that he would be OK with riding Wheeler through the end of the season, as long as the righthander continues to feel good and pitch well.
“It wouldn’t be pushing him — as long as he can just go with the flow and continue to work the way he’s working,” Callaway said. “At this point, we just want to continue to monitor his effectiveness.”
Said Wheeler: “Honestly, I haven’t even thought about the innings.”
Amed Rosario went 3-for-5 with a key two-run single in the sixth. Austin Jackson (double, two runs), Todd Frazier (two runs) and Wilmer Flores (double) also had multiple hits for the Mets (48-65), who knocked around Jose Urena for four runs and eight hits in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Notes & quotes: Steven Matz (left flexor pronator strain) is scheduled for a simulated game Saturday, Callaway said. That would line him up to pitch in the doubleheader Thursday against the Phillies if the Mets deem him ready . . . The Mets are considering a six-man rotation upon Matz’s return, which would allow them to keep starting Corey Oswalt. Of the effect that might have on Jacob deGrom and his pursuit of the Cy Young Award, Callaway said: “We understand where he’s at and what he’s trying to do. We would make sure that he’s taken care of.” . . . Callaway hopes to see first-base prospect Peter Alonso with the Mets in September. On Thursday with Triple-A Las Vegas, Alonso, 23, hit his 28th homer and became the first player — majors or minors — to reach 100 RBIs. His defensive ability and the Mets’ first-base playing time are question marks, though.
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