The Brewers and Mets send two young pitchers to the mound in Friday's series opener at Miller Park, each looking to rebound from rough starts.
Milwaukee's Johnny Hellweg makes his second Major League start after a rough outing on Friday against the Pirates, and New York's Zack Wheeler aims to regroup from his shaky start in his home debut against the Nationals on Sunday.
Hellweg had a 1-2-3 first inning against the Pirates before surrendering six hits and seven runs (five earned) while recording just two outs in the second inning. The 24-year-old right-hander looked tentative, as seen in his first pitch -- an 87 mph fastball. Hellweg, whose heat is usually between 96-98 mph, said he was eager to get back on the mound.
"I'm ready to go back out there," said Hellweg, who looked more comfortable in a relief inning against the Nationals on Monday, despite allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits. "I kind of left a bad taste in everyone's mouth the last time they saw me. I want to get out and show what I can do."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke called Hellweg into his office on Saturday, and the skipper was encouraged by the discussion with his youngster.
"He's going to get after it the next outing and we'll see, with his best stuff, what Major League hitters can do with it," Roenicke said. "He was disappointed that they never saw his best stuff."
Wheeler makes the fourth start of his young career and targets a return to his debut form. On June 18, he threw six shutout innings against the Braves, but he has allowed nine earned runs in his last two outings, spanning 10 innings.
The 23-year-old right-hander gave up six hits and five earned runs to the Nationals on Sunday, and Mets manager Terry Collins said part of the problem could be pitch selection. Wheeler threw just 47 fastballs of his 89 pitches, the fewest of his three starts.
"One of the things that I really, really, really believe, and I don't care whether it's a guy like Zack Wheeler, who's strictly a power guy, or if it's a guy like Dillon Gee -- you have to pitch to your strengths," Collins said. "You can't always pitch to the hitter's weaknesses."
Mets: Wheeler a work in progress
The Mets said Wheeler was tipping his pitches in his last start against the Nationals, but while Collins admitted it was a concern, he noted his young right-hander has good enough stuff to still get outs.
"You can't cage these guys up," Collins said. "This guy's not ready to be the perfect control artist like Curt Schilling that can throw a 97-mph fastball on the outside corner. He's not there yet. He will be, and that's why the sky's the limit for him, but it's a work in progress."
Opposing hitters are just 1-for-19 against Wheeler with runners in scoring position, although seven of the 14 hits he has allowed have gone for extra bases.
Brewers: Trade rumors not concerning Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo brushed aside questions on Thursday about a possible trade to the D-backs that has come to light the past couple days.
"You can think about it all you want, but there's nothing you can do," Gallardo said. "There's really nothing you can do. You just have to go out there and pitch, and then wait around to see what happens. It's already hard enough to pitch at this level to begin with, so the last thing you need is to be thinking about things like that."
The Brewers and D-backs are reportedly in talks about a deal involving Gallardo and Arizona's left-handed prospect Tyler Skaggs. Those talks were first reported Wednesday night by FOXSports.com and CBSSports.com, with FOX's Ken Rosenthal saying Arizona had also inquired about Milwaukee relievers John Axford, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez.
Gallardo is penciled in to start on Saturday against Mets right-hander Shaun Marcum.
• Opponents are batting .111 (3-for-27) with runners on base against Wheeler in his three starts.
• The Brewers are 19-23 at home, while the Mets are 18-20 on the road.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.