Wheeler produces K's when it counts

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
NEW YORK -- Zack Wheeler knows he tends to get tripped up in the fifth inning. In fact, after surrendering an RBI single to Marcell Ozuna in that frame Friday in what became a Mets 4-3 win against the Miami Marlins, Wheeler had the issue floating in his brain.

Of the 13 runs Wheeler has allowed this season in five starts, nine have been scored in the fifth inning.

"After the fifth, I was thinking, 'Man, it’s always the fifth that comes up and bites me,'" Wheeler said.

Wheeler nonetheless toughened up and departed after six innings with a 2-1 lead. He faced runners on the corners with one out in his final frame but struck out Derek Dietrich with a changeup and Adeiny Hechavarria with a slider to complete his 110-pitch outing.

"You've got to make big pitches at certain points during the game," Wheeler said. "That’s what I did. Something to take pride in is not letting guys get past third base. A big part of my game is bearing down when I really have to."

On the changeup to Dietrich, Wheeler said: "The first time I faced him, he didn’t look too good on the changeup, so I came back the third at-bat, because he didn’t see it the second at-bat, and that’s what I got him on."

As for the slider to Hechavarria, that came from video study before the game. Wheeler said Hechavarria looked bad on the pitch in the clips he had watched.

"That’s why I shook to it," Wheeler said, referring to pitch calls from catcher Travis d'Arnaud.

Wheeler walked three batters and allowed four hits in six innings, and he suggested afterward that plate umpire Andy Fletcher’s strike zone was "tough."

Still, Wheeler contributed to the continued success of Mets starting pitchers. In the past 11 games, the group has a 1.81 ERA.

"We’ve got an awesome starting staff," Wheeler said. "You can’t ask for better guys also."

As for why he tends to melt down in the fifth, Wheeler added: "I’m not losing concentration. I know that. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something I’ve got to fix."
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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Bartolo Colon
15 4.09 151 202
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187