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Zack Wheeler’s gem turns to stone, thanks to Mets bullpen

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler delivers in the first

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler delivers in the first inning against the Pirates at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Zack Wheeler isn’t much for thinking about the past, namely, his.

The Mets starter turned in another fine performance Wednesday night in a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh. Wheeler earned a no-decision on a night when he pitched well enough for a win but was denied, “thanks” to the bullpen, which allowed a run in the eighth inning and four more in the ninth.

The 6-4 righthander went seven shutout innings and allowed five hits, no runs, with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Wheeler has pitched 88 2⁄3 innings with 86 strikeouts this season surpassing both totals from a year ago. He went 86 1⁄3 innings with 81 strikeouts in 2017 with multiple stints on the disabled list before he pitched his last game of the season on July 22.

“You’re just going out there pitching,” said the 28-year-old, who missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons with Tommy John surgery. “You’re not really worrying about years past and all that kind of stuff and injuries. I feel healthy and I’m going to try and keep it going.”

That’s exactly what Wheeler has been doing of late. The Smyrna, Georgia, product has went at least six innings in 11 of his 15 starts this season, and seven of his last eight outings. Also, four of his last six games have been quality starts. He is 2-6 with a 4.47 ERA on the season.

“You can see it in the way he pitches,” said Mets manager Mickey Callaway. “He put us in a situation where we had a very high probability to win, and that’s all you can every ask. You can just see the way he attacks hitters now with really good stuff, a lot of conviction, and a lot of confidence.”

That confidence is not only in Wheeler, himself, but in his relationship with catcher Devin Mesoraco.

“We were basically on the same page,” said Wheeler, who recorded his eighth quality start of the season. “He really studies the game so whatever he wants (to call) is probably what I’m going to throw.”

It probably didn’t matter who was behind the plate for Wheeler on Wednesday night.

“You get into a groove and you work off of that,” Wheeler said. “My off-speed is starting to come around, so, yeah, everything feels good right now.”

Wheeler, who threw 75 of his 105 pitches for strikes, isn’t worried about stats, speed, numbers, or anything other than being injury-free.

“I worked hard this offseason to prepare for this season,” said Wheeler, who is 23-29 in his career. “I knew if I was healthy I was going to do well. That was my goal coming in, and I worked my butt off this offseason. I think it’s sort of paying off.”

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