Morning Briefing: Third-place Mets?


FIRST PITCH: The Mets are making a run at third place.

If the Amazin’s pull off a sweep of the Phillies today with Carlos Torres opposing Cliff Lee, they will pull even with Philadelphia in the NL East.

Of course, success has repercussions.

The Mets are on the borderline of protected versus unprotected draft picks.

At 70-84, the Mets are currently tied for the eighth-worst record with the Colorado Rockies. A half-game better, with the 10th and final protected pick, are the San Francisco Giants.

Only a game better than the Mets, and with their picks currently unprotected if the season were to end now, are the Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies at 71-83. The Mets also could be in danger of passing the San Diego Padres (72-82) with a little more success.

Meanwhile, shortstop Wilfredo Tovar is due to make his major league debut in the 1:35 p.m. series finale.

Sunday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler experienced shoulder stiffness during and after his last start, so the Mets have decided to shut him down now. No MRI or doctor’s visit is planned. Wheeler went 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 17 major league starts during his rookie season.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.

David Wright homered for the second straight day and the Mets posted a rain-shortened, 5-4 win against the Phillies on Saturday. Wright is due to sit out today’s game as well as Wednesday’s game in Cincinnati to ease back from a right hamstring strain. The captain indicated his fielding sharpness is not yet fully back after a seven-week absence.

Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.

• Baseball America computes the Mets’ minor league teams’ cumulative record of 413-343 (.546) to be tied with the Minnesota Twins for fourth-best in MLB. The only better winning percentages: The Houston Astros (.570), San Francisco Giants (.564) and Washington Nationals (.550). See the chart here.

• Check out the roster for the Mets’ fall instructional league here. Games begin Tuesday.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing greets Wright's return with enhanced appreciation for the greatest third baseman in Mets history. … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests there is no point inviting Daisuke Matsuzaka to spring training.

BIRTHDAYS: Triple-A manager Wally Backman turns 54. … Right-hander Chris Schwinden is 27. … Bench coach Bob Geren and Vince Coleman turn 52.


YOU’RE UP: Do you approve of the decision to shut down Zack Wheeler for the season?