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Monday, August 26, 2013
Wheeler: No extra pressure without Harvey

By Matt Ehalt

NEW YORK -- Their careers will forever be intertwined, the two young arms the Mets are hoping will help them return to their days of contention.

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are the two hard-throwing right-handers the Mets hope will anchor a dynamic rotation in the near future that has them in the race year after year. Harvey has already shown he can be an ace, while Wheeler has become more promising by the day.

Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler got the loss on Monday.
Monday, the Mets' dynamic duo suffered a big blow as it was revealed that Harvey has a partial UCL tear in his right arm that could require surgery, potentially sidelining him through 2014.

With Harvey gone likely all of this year, and with next year a question mark, Wheeler is the one young stud left this season, and potentially next. It may seem like big shoes to fill, but Wheeler isn't feeling any pressure of having to step up with Harvey sidelined.

"No, not necessarily. I'm going to go out there and pitch the same way I've been pitching," Wheeler said. "Like I said it's unfortunate that it happened and I'm going to go out there and do the best I can, control what I can control."

Just hours after Harvey's injury was announced, Wheeler responded with an excellent outing in the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Monday night at Citi Field. Wheeler gave up just two runs over 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven, but suffered the loss as Cliff Lee dominated the Mets.

"It's horrible. No pitcher ever wants to go through that and no pitcher ever wants to hear about that, especially to a good guy like Matt, he's having a tremendous year," Wheeler said about Harvey. "He started the All-Star Game. He's doing very well. It's terrible news."

Mets manager Terry Collins explained that there won't be any pressure on Wheeler with Harvey gone to be the No. 1 starter in the Mets' rotation because Wheeler isn't programmed that way. The manager said that while that status as the ace drives Harvey, Wheeler just takes the ball.

Facing a weak Phillies lineup on Monday, Wheeler cruised but suffered the loss because he couldn't close out the fourth. Ahead 1-0 with two outs, he allowed a single and walk before yielding a two-run triple to Cody Asche that put the Phillies ahead by the final margin.

In the seventh inning, with two outs and a runner on second and Wheeler sitting at 105 pitches, Collins pulled his youngster from the game.

"We said before the game 105 was the limit," Collins said. "After what happened today, we're sticking to it."

Wheeler, who fell to 6-3, wanted to stay in, but he understood the move.

"It's definitely going to be a while before any of us get back up there in pitch count," Wheeler said. "It's not their fault but it's human when your best pitcher goes down, his UCL, but it's part of the game and I understand it."