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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
W2W4: Zack Wheeler's debut vs Braves

By Mark Simon

Here’s a look at some of the statistical storylines pertaining to the major league debut of Mets starter Zack Wheeler tonight.

Overcoming History
Wheeler will be trying to accomplish a first for a big-league newcomer:

Visiting starters are 0-7 with three no-decisions when making their major league debut at Turner Field. In fact, none of the 27 visiting relievers who made their major league debut won there either.

Living up to expectations quickly
If you read our list of the best Mets debuts, you may have noticed a bunch of pitchers of recent vintage on the list. Three of the last four Mets starters to make their major league debut have pitched very well -- Dillon Gee, Matt Harvey and Collin McHugh. The three combined to allow one run and seven hits in 19 1/3 innings.

But those who have debuted with a start against the Braves have not fared as well.

Three Mets have done so: Darrell Sutherland in 1964, Octavio Dotel in 1999 and Chris Schwinden in 2011. The three allowed a combined 16 runs in 9 2/3 innings pitched. Each allowed at least five runs.

Wheeler will be the 11th pitcher drafted No. 6 or higher in the MLB Amateur Draft to pitch in a game for the Mets. The two best pitchers from that group (by far) are Dwight Gooden and Jon Matlack. The other eight are Les Rohr, Randy Sterling, Wayne Twitchell, Tim Leary, Paul Wilson, Kris Benson, Braden Looper, and Philip Humber.

Shutting down Freddie Freeman
Freeman has been a Mets killer the last couple of seasons (most notably last night), as they’ve been unable to figure out a way to get him out.

Freeman is the Braves most eager hitter early in the count (he swings at the first pitch more than any other Braves player) and their best fastball hitter:

He entered the series a ridiculously impressive 31-for-63 in at-bats ending with fastballs from right-handed pitching this season and has hot spots all over the plate and outside the strike zone.

However with this success, comes some struggles against breaking pitches -- he misses on nearly 40 percent of his swings against them. The walk-off home run was the first homer Freeman has had on a breaking ball all season.

The Upton brothers
Justin Upton got off to a great start this season, but has cooled off a bit. Entering this series, 80 percent of Upton’s hits have come in the lower half of the strike zone (or below).

B.J. has one hot spot, down-and-in. He made the Giants pay for going there too often on Saturday, hitting a pair of home runs.

Justin is vulnerable in one notable spot. He entered the series with no hits all season on fastballs thrown to the upper-third of the strike zone or above.

B.J. has similar issues. In fact, he entered Monday with no hits on pitches thrown anywhere outside the strike zone this season

Will the Braves look to run?
Wheeler has a good recent history of holding opposing baserunners. They are 3-for-6 stealing against him this season and 11-for-25 against him since joining the Mets.

Wheeler the hitter
Wheeler has had mixed results as a hitter the last two seasons, falling very much into the all-or-nothing category. He’s 4-for-27 as a minor leaguer with 17 strikeouts, three walks and five sacrifice bunts. He was 3-for-10 in Triple-A this season.