|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, July 26, 2019
Citi Field, Flushing, New York Attendance: 33,776
Mets welcome back Wheeler, who may last beyond start vs. Pirates
For most of this week, it appeared as if Zack Wheeler would be the member of the New York Mets making a farewell start during the final homestand before the trade deadline.
But it turns out Wheeler might be sticking around, and the goodbye start by a Mets pitcher might have taken place Wednesday, not Friday, when Wheeler is scheduled to come off the injured list and take the mound against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game series.
Wheeler (6-6, 4.69 ERA) is lined up to oppose Pirates rookie Dario Agrazal (2-0, 2.25) in a battle of right-handers.
Both teams played at home Thursday afternoon; the Mets beat the San Diego Padres 4-0 in the rubber game of a three-game series and the Pirates suffered their fifth straight loss with a 6-3 setback to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Wheeler will be pitching for the first time since July 7, when he took the loss after allowing six runs over five innings as the Mets fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 8-3 in the final game before the All-Star break. The 29-year-old was placed on the injured list eight days later due to a fatigued shoulder.
The injury seemed to imperil the trade deadline plans of the Mets (47-55), who enter Friday's game with only the Pirates and the Miami Marlins further below .500 in the National League. Wheeler, due to reach free agency after the season, appeared to be New York's most attractive trade chip.
But while Wheeler will make it back to the mound in time to audition one more time for potential suitors, he may not be the pitcher the Mets are looking to deal. On Thursday afternoon, multiple outlets reported New York might sign Wheeler to an extension and instead trade Wednesday's starter, Noah Syndergaard, who isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.
Wheeler, who was also the subject of trade rumors last season before staying put, said he's not worried about where he might or might not be next week.
"I'm just going to try and go out there and get a win and concentrate on that," Wheeler told reporters after he threw batting practice Tuesday.
The Pirates are solely focused on that, too, as they try to battle out of a potential season-ruining tailspin. Pittsburgh entered the All-Star break just 2 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central and heading into a stretch in which it would play 10 of its first 13 second-half games against divisional foes.
But the Pirates went just 2-11 in those games, including 1-9 against the NL Central.
"We haven't played winning baseball," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters following Thursday's game. "We haven't connected the dots. We haven't been able to get our hitting and our pitching and our defense all synced up."
Agrazal didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start Sunday, when he gave up one run over six innings as the Pirates fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1 in 11 innings.
Agrazal, who will be making his sixth career start, has never faced the Mets. Wheeler is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts against the Pirates.
--Field Level Media
Updated July 26, 2019