MLB roundup: June 18

New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler pitches in the first inning in the second baseball game of the doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, June 18, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

It was just a regular doubleheader against the Braves in Atlanta on Tuesday, but it might have been the highlight of a pretty dismal Mets season in 2013.

Matt Harvey took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the first game – and despite a meltdown in the late innings, the Mets hung on for the win.

In the nightcap, Zack Wheeler made an awfully impressive major league debut, striking out seven over six innings to earn his first big league win.

For a look behind the scenes, I’ll start with Harvey.

He threw 65 fastballs at an average velocity of 97.2 miles per hour. His fastest pitch was clocked at 100.85 MPH. Of the 27 sliders he threw, he got 10 swings and misses. He threw his curveball 15 times, with 14 of those counting for strikes. It’s one thing to throw hard and it’s another to throw strikes, but Harvey is managing to do both and that’s what makes him special.

Wheeler wasn’t as dominant as Harvey, as he walked five and allowed four hits in his six innings of work. He threw 71 fastballs at an average speed of 96.2 MPH – he maxed out at 98.4 – but only threw 55 percent of those for strikes. He threw 15 slides and 12 curveballs, but only 44 percent of those went for strikes. Wheeler only had one swing and miss at those 27 breaking balls. He did get 12 swings and misses on his fastball.

Zack Wheeler strike zone plot (6/18/13) via BrooksBaseball.net

As you can see in Wheeler’s strike zone plot, which gives you the catcher’s perspective, he didn’t miss high very often, which is a good sign. His biggest problem here was the outside corner against left-handed batters.

Time will tell with these two pitchers. Despite being out of the playoff race, the Mets will certainly be interesting any time Wheeler or Harvey start the rest of the season.

The question for Harvey will be his durability. He’s actually increased his velocity across the board each month this season. Will that continue into the summer? Will he plateau out at his current velocity? Will he start slowing down as things heat up? Can he physically handle a full 30-start workload?

For Wheeler, the question will be if he can maximize his non-fastball pitches against major league hitters. His fastball baffled the Braves batters last night, but that might have been more a factor of playing three games in 24 hours than anything else. He needs to start throwing his breaking pitches for strikes and putting them in a sequence where he’s getting swings and misses on them as well.

Will the Mets be able to assemble a major league team – a few hitters and a bullpen – around these guys in the near future? Or are their peak years going to be wasted?

The Yankees play a doubleheader against the Dodgers today at Yankee Stadium. Phil Hughes starts the late game tonight and he’s had a string of good start, bad start, good start performances. He took the loss in his last outing at Oakland, so he’s due for a good performance tonight, but the Dodgers’ power-packed offense might have something to say about that.

What to watch tonight…

  • A pair of former Hudson Valley Renegades square off tonight when Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays face Ryan Dempster and the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Boston won both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday, increasing its AL East lead to 2 1/2 games. Tampa Bay is now 7 games back.
  • On the west coast, Joe Saunders and the Mariners face C.J. Wilson and the Angels. Saunders has been great at Safeco Field (4-2, 2.53 ERA), but he’s been dreadful on the road (1-4, 7.58 ERA). Will he fare better in his old home ballpark in Anaheim?
  • The Padres and Giants play an afternoon game in San Francisco. The Padres are in fourth place in the NL West, but they’re just two games out of first.
  • Jeff Locke (6-1, 2.19 ERA) and the Pirates play the Red and Bronson Arroyo in Cincy. The Reds are 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central and the Pirates are just a half game back of the Reds.
  • Shaun Marcum (0-8, 5.43 ERA) tries to follow in the footsteps of Harvey and Wheeler tonight against Kris Medlen and the Braves.
  • Update: I forgot to mention that the Mets made some news after Wheeler’s start. The Mets acquired Eric Young, Jr. from the Rockies for pitcher Collin McHugh. Collin Cowgill was designated for assignment. Young Jr. gives the Mets some depth in the outfield, especially in center. Young has played second base in the past, but not seriously since 2010. Through 57 games with the Rockies, he was hitting. 242 and had stolen eight bases in 12 attempts. Young had hit .316 last year and wasq 14-of-16 in steal attempts, but his breakout season didn’t carry over into 2013. He should get regular playing time as a 28-year-old. Young isn’t a major factor for the Mets’ future, but he could prove to be useful as a super utility guy if he can also play second base.

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  • Blog Author

    Will Montgomery

    Will Montgomery covers boys' soccer, girls' basketball, boys' and girls' swimming and diving, boys' lacrosse and baseball (including the Hudson Valley Renegades) for Varsity845.com and the Times Herald-Record. Prior to joining the TH-R in November ... Read Full
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