ATLANTA — Zack Wheeler does not want to be Matt Harvey. Nor does the Mets’ top pitching prospect want to be a savior. Wheeler admitted he just wants to get though his major-league debut without getting sick on the mound.
“It is going to be a big moment in my life. There are probably gonna be some nerves going in,” Wheeler said Monday in anticipation of his debut Tuesday. “I had a pitching coach my first year in low (Class-A), Steve Kline, he played forever in the big leagues with the Cardinals and Giants. He told me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t go out there and look up, because all the lights and the fans will be moving and it will make you sick.’ I think he said he threw up on the mound the first time. So he told me not to look up, that was his advice.”
With Wheeler about to be unwrapped against the Braves at Turner Field, about 40 minutes from where he grew up, he’ll have too much on his mind to worry about the pressure of being a savior to the struggling Mets.
“I don’t think I am the savior at all,” Wheeler said. “We’ve got great arms here and great players here. We might not be doing too well right now, but I know the talent of these guys. Hopefully we can turn it around here soon. I just want to help the team and do what I can.”
He also can’t worry about being the second coming of Harvey, the Mets’ second-year ace who has established himself as one of the top young pitchers in the majors. Harvey is slated to pitch the first game of the two-admission doubleheader.
Both power righties have fastballs that sit in the mid-90s, but Harvey and Wheeler are very different off the mound.
Harvey has embraced the spotlight of New York. Wheeler is more laid back and quiet, though he had no trouble handling the media spotlight Monday.
Wheeler knows there will be comparisons but also knows he has to take his own path.
“I mean he set the bar so high, because he took off once he came up here,” Wheeler said of Harvey. “Some people expected it, some people didn’t. I am just going to go out there and do the best I can. People take it how they want. Hopefully I will do well and be up there with him.”
Harvey said he had not talked much to Wheeler after spring training, but he was “curious” to see the debut.
“Just go out and pitch,” Harvey said he would tell Wheeler before his outing. “That’s what we do.”
With a huge contingent of friends and family making the 40-minute drive from his hometown of Dallas, Ga., Wheeler said he would try to treat it like any other start.
“Obviously it’s my first big league game. I mean, you can’t over-think it, I might get a little nervous out there,” Wheeler said. “I am going to try to downplay it a little bit, think about it as another game, do what gets you here, throw strikes, attack the hitters and come right after guys.”
That is what Terry Collins wanted to hear. “I told him he is only one guy and he is going to go out there every fifth day, maybe every sixth,” the manager said. “He’s in the rotation, he’s going to have to realize he can’t do it all, just do his share.”
Wheeler was the sixth overall draft pick by the Giants in 2009. He was dealt to the Mets in 2011 for Carlos Beltran and started this season at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he went 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA, with 73 strikeouts and 27 walks in 68-2⁄3 innings.
- Play Ball! Major League Baseball opens its pandemic-delayed season in Washington with a nod to Black Lives Matter as the Dodgers deploy cardboard cutouts of fans to fill empty seats in LA
- A’s Jordan Weems makes big-league debut with family watching from afar
- Zack Snyder's Justice League Teaser Trailer Drops Next Month During DC Fandome Event
- Kevin Smith addresses claims that Joss Whedon bashed Zack Snyder's Justice League on the reshoot set
- IND vs WI, 1st T20: Krunal Pandya set for T20 debut against West Indies
- Rockies’ Bard gets 1st big league win in more than 7 seasons
- Gosselin homers twice, Wheeler sharp in Phillies’ 7-1 win
- Alonso hits 46th, 47th HRs as deGrom, Mets beat D-backs 3-1
- After winter of instability, rising Mets gear up for spring
- Mets `amped’ for delayed season with Céspedes potential DH
- Conforto, Alonso, Smith Homer For Mets To Beat Red Sox 7-4
- Ozuna Homers Off Díaz, Braves Beat Mets In New Extras Format
- Mets Icon Rusty Staub Dies At 73
- Ozuna homers off Díaz, Braves beat Mets in new extras format
- Ready Or Not, Callaway & The Mets Set To Open Season Vs Cardinals
- New York Mets great officially retires
- Gray, Yankees Get Win Over Mets In Game 2 Of Subway Series
- Superman's Black Suit in Justice League Revealed by Zack Snyder at #JusticeCon
- Zack Snyder Is Happy to Finish His Justice League Cut for Free
- Premier League 2019-20 season review: our writers’ best and worst
Mets' Zack Wheeler set for Major League debut, says nerves may be a factor have 864 words, post on www.nydailynews.com at June 18, 2013. This is cached page on Game Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.