- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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WASHINGTON -- When Zack Wheeler told his manager he wanted to go back out for the seventh inning Saturday night, Terry Collins had a straightforward reply: Then stop telling media members how tired you are at this point in the season.
Regardless, even with diminished velocity as he sets a career high for innings logged, the rookie Wheeler continues to be highly effective.
New York Mets
He took a scoreless effort into the sixth and ultimately limited Washington to two runs in 6 2/3 innings as the Mets pounded the Nats, 11-3.
Wheeler is now at 151 2/3 innings between the majors and minors this season. He logged 149 in 2012.
“My velo is not up, so obviously I’m a little tired. But once you get out there and get going, you don’t even know about it,” Wheeler said. “I stayed out there for the seventh and I still felt as strong as I did in the first.”
Wheeler departed at 99 pitches.
“I’ll tell you why we took him out: We were trying to watch his innings,” Collins said. “I also know what he’s saying in the papers about getting a little tired. I said, ‘You’ve got to be careful.’
“He’s the one who came in after the sixth inning and said, ‘I want to go back out there.’ And I said, ‘Then stop telling everybody you’re tired and you will go back out there.’
“But that shows you that no matter what he says, this guy competes. Don’t ever let maybe his personality let you think he doesn’t compete on that mound. This guy was angry with the inning before and wanted to go back out there and finish it off.”
Wheeler is now 7-3 with a 3.36 ERA in his major league career after some early hiccups.
“Because he’s throwing strikes,” Collins said, contrasting the early work with now. “That’s what we’re seeing. He’s not trying to strike people out -- which is what everybody, with the great arm that he had, people were looking for that.
“And, I think, when he got up here, he thought he had to do that. I think while he was here, he said, ‘Hey, look, I don’t have to. I can get outs if I pitch to contact, and stay in games longer.’”