Youngsters will be front and center in Friday’s season opener as much-hyped rookie Zack Wheeler (1-1) takes the ball for the Mets while Johnny Hellweg (0-1), who opened this season No. 3 on MLB.com’s list of top Brewers prospects, will make his second career start for Milwaukee.
The last-place Brewers currently trail the division leading Pittsburgh Pirates by 18 games in the National League Central and are 2.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs for fourth in the division. The Crew is just 19-23 at Miller Park this season and has lost two straight at home.
The Mets, meanwhile, are in fourth place in the National League East, 12.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves and four games in back of the third-place Philadelphia Phillies. New York is actually playing better on the road (18-20) than it is at Citi Field this season, where the Mets are just 17-27.
The Mets are coming off a 3-4 home stand against the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks and have won their last two road games.
New York recalled first baseman Ike Davis for Friday’s game. Davis, who hit 32 home runs last season, was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 10 after hitting .161/.242/.258 with five homers and 16 RBI to go with 66 strikeouts in just 207 plate appearances to open the season. He will start Friday night despite Josh Satin being on a 10-game hitting streak.
Hellweg made one relief appearance since his major-league debut, during which he was shelled a week ago by the Pirates, allowing seven runs, six of them earned, and recording just five outs.
“I’m ready to go back out there,” Hellweg told MLB.com. “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.”
Hellweg, touted as a flame-thrower, was tentative in his first start, opening with a fastball at just 87 mph after regularly touching between 96 and 98 while at Triple-A Nashville.
Wheeler, meanwhile, is making his fourth major-league start after being shelled in his last outing on Sunday against the Nationals. Wheeler was tagged for six hits and five runs in 4.2 innings and the Mets said the right-hander was tipping his pitches against Washington.
But opposing hitters are just 1-for-19 against Wheeler with runners in scoring position. However, seven of the 14 hits he has surrendered in his first three starts have gone for extra bases, including three home runs.
The series continues Saturday night when the Brewers start Yovani Gallardo (6-8) against former Brewer Shawn Marcum (1-9). Sunday afternoon’s finale pits Wily Peralta (5-9) for Milwaukee and Jeremy Hefner (3-6) for New York.
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