Nearly two weeks after making his highly anticipated Major League debut, Zack Wheeler will make another debut of sorts on Sunday when he takes the Citi Field mound for the first time.
Wheeler, ranked the No. 7 overall prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, will make his home debut in the rubber match of the Mets' three-game set against the Nationals. Though he knows it will be another special day, Wheeler -- whose parents and brothers will be in attendance -- is trying to stay grounded in just his third big league start.
"Just another start. Obviously it's my first start at Citi, and it's going be very exciting and it's going to be a big point in my life," Wheeler said. "Just soaking it in; it's going to be fun."
The 23-year-old righty is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing start his last time out in the follow up to his impressive June 18 debut. After twirling six scoreless innings against the Braves in his first start, Wheeler struggled Tuesday against the White Sox in an outing in which he may have been tipping his pitches.
He allowed four runs off four hits, including serving up his first big league homer, while walking three and striking out just one over 5 1/3 innings. There was concern that Wheeler was tipping his breaking pitches against the White Sox, something the young righty has been working to correct with the help of pitching coach Dan Warthen over the last few days.
"I don't think it's anything too difficult," Wheeler said. "Just a little small tweak here and there, and we'll be good to go."
Wheeler, who will be opposed by Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez, has mainly been focused on maintaining a consistent arm slot. Against the White Sox, his arm angle tended to vary slightly based on whether he was throwing a fastball or breaking pitch.
Though Wheeler has spent a lot of time on the issue since his last start, manager Terry Collins isn't worried that the coaching staff is throwing too much at the righty too soon. Like Wheeler, Collins is confident club's top pitching prospect won't be tipping any of his pitches on Sunday when the hometown fans get their first in-person look at the young righty.
"You've got to be careful. When he gets on the mound, he's got to pitch. His only focus has got to be throwing the baseball to where he wants it," Collins said. "If he needs that much work, he shouldn't be here."
Nationals: Gonzalez looks to keep rolling
Though he has just one win in his last nine starts, Gonzalez has been lights-out on the mound since a rocky opening month.
The left-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer while completing at least six innings in nine of his 10 starts since the beginning of May. After posting a 5.34 ERA in six April starts, Gonzalez has posted a 2.32 ERA in 10 starts since to lower his season ERA to 3.31.
With the Nationals struggling to provide much run support at times, however, he sits at just 4-3 entering Sunday's start.
Mets: Third time's a charm for Satin
In his third stint in the Majors, first baseman Josh Satin is finally settling into a groove.
Satin enters Sunday's series finale on a five-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 10 straight games. He has a .545 on-base percentage during that 10-game stretch.
"Josh Satin right now has done a great job," Collins said. "And he's given us as quality a bat in the middle of the lineup as anybody."
Overall, Satin is hitting .357 (10-for-28) with eight walks, three doubles and four RBIs.
• Eric Young Jr. is in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak, matching his career high. He is hitting .400 (14-for-35) with four doubles, five runs scored and six RBIs during that stretch.
• Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond enters the final day of June having driven in 25 runs this month, the most in franchise history for the month of June. Adam Dunn holds the club record for most RBIs in any month, driving in 27 in May 2009.