NEW YORK -- The Mets will likely use a six-man rotation for one turn when Zack Wheeler arrives, according to manager Terry Collins. Wheeler is expected to make his debut during the night game of the doubleheader against Atlanta on June 18.
"What we're going to do most likely, when Zack comes, we'll go with an extra starting pitcher for a turn so that everybody can stay in line," Collins said Wednesday. "We'll see how those games come out, if somebody happens to be overworked or someone has a short outing, maybe he can come back earlier. Certainly we have no intentions of jerking anybody out at this time."
The two likely candidates to be removed from the rotation are Jeremy Hefner and Wednesday's starter, Dillon Gee. Jon Niese and Shaun Marcum both appear safe, while Matt Harvey has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season.
Hefner, who took the loss Tuesday against St. Louis, is 1-6 with a 4.11 ERA. Gee, who Collins said he believes has improved as more time has passed since he underwent surgery last July to repair artery damage, is 4-6 with a 5.20 ERA.
Wheeler's debut is one of the few positive things surrounding the Mets as the team has lost seven of its last eight games and the offense continues to struggle. Wheeler, the team's top pitching prospect, is 4-1 with a 4.11 ERA in 12 starts pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Collins said he hasn't talked to a scout who's been down on Wheeler, and two scouts he talked to last week told him that Wheeler will pitch better in Flushing than he did in the minors. Collins compared that to Harvey, who didn't pitch nearly as well in the minors as he has since joining the Mets.
Collins, who managed in Triple-A, said the difference in performance between the minors and the majors relates to focus.
"A lot of guys, you don't want to admit it, but I can honestly tell you from my nine years of managing Triple-A, there are guys who get bored. Know they belong at the next level and therefore the focus is missing a little bit," Collins said. "Plus, no disrespect to the players in Las Vegas, there are some very good ones there, but you catch the ball better up here."
The manager added that the team will bring up Wheeler when they are permitted to do so, meaning they won't be using a roster spot on him until they need to make a move. Collins also said it will be GM Sandy Alderson's call as to whether the team subs out a pitcher or a position player.
"I'm anxious to see him. I'm certainly going to make sure that he doesn't think he has to pitch no-hitters to be successful here," Collins said. "He just needs to pound the strike zone with quality stuff and he'll get outs."