Consistent fastball command once again eluded top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, who took the loss on Tuesday night when Triple-A Las Vegas fell to Fresno 4-1.
Wheeler (0-1, 3.12 ERA) allowed four runs, though only one was earned, in 5 1/3 innings.
The 22-year-old righthander walked three and struck out six as he battled control issues with this fastball, just as he had done in his season debut last week against Sacramento.
Of the eight hits Wheeler surrendered, five came on two-strike counts, an indication of the pitcher's difficulties in putting away opposing hitters.He could also blame his lack of fastball command, which was enough to get him in trouble despite secondary offerings that were mostly sharp.
Wheeler's fastball was regularly clocked at 97 mph according to the Fresno Bee, though he made it clear early on that control might be an issue. In the first inning, with two strikes to Kensuke Tanaka,Wheeler left a 95 mph fastball over the plate. Tanaka ripped it for a double. But Wheeler eased himself out of trouble by getting Francisco Peguero to hit into a double play.
Wheeler's fortunes changed in the third inning, when the Grizzlies tagged him for three runs by maximizing Bixler's error at third base.
Again with two strikes, Wheeler allowed a fastball to catch too much of the plate to Carter Jurica, ho lined an RBI double to tie the score at 1-1. Roger Kieshnick lined the first pitch he saw in the third inning to knock in another run.
The Grizzlies' Todd Linden added another two-strike hit, this one an RBI double down the left field line.