Can Zack Wheeler tame the Rockies?

Zack Wheeler3In his rookie season, Zack Wheeler turned heads with how he pitched against the Braves. While Atlanta has had its way with New York most of the last 20 or so years, Wheeler went out and put up a 3-0 mark against them in 2013. Now, Wheeler will get the chance to slay another Mets demon – the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies don’t have nearly as long a history of tormenting the Mets as the Braves do, yet since Terry Collins took over, the club is just 8-14 versus against Colorado. The pitching has been brutal in these matchups, as the Mets have a 5.01 ERA in 22 games and have allowed 29 HR in 195.1 IP. Overall, the Rockies have a .272/.334/.446 line against the Mets.

One of the biggest problems New York faces is that Colorado owns Jon Niese. In six games against the Mets’ lefty, Colorado has amassed a .306/.360/.517 line. Niese has hurled 36.2 IP against the Rockies and is just 1-3 with a 5.65 ERA.

Bartolo Colon did not have much better luck than Niese Thursday night. While it was his first lifetime loss against Colorado, Colon has a 7.71 ERA and a 1.959 WHIP after allowing 11 baserunners and seven runs in 4.2 IP in his first start for the Mets against the Rockies.

Hopefully Wheeler can limit the damage. In his last outing, Wheeler had his best start of the year for the Mets, as he struck out 10 and allowed just 1 ER in 6 IP against the Marlins. One thing Wheeler has done well this year is to limit the gopher ball. He’s allowed just 2 HR in 29.1 IP and has not allowed a homer since surrendering a leadoff blast to Jason Heyward in his second game of the season, a span of 23.1 innings.

The Rockies lead the majors with 39 HR, 23 of which they hit in the launching pad of Coors Field, including Carlos Gonzalez’ blast off Colon Thursday night. Wheeler will have his work cut out for him Friday, with Colorado having a .346/.395/.583 team line in home games.

New York has succeeded early in the season thanks to some strong starting pitching efforts. This four-game series with the red-hot Rockies will hurt the starters’ overall numbers. But if the Mets hope to avoid their recent struggles against Colorado, they’ll have to do it with pitching. Here’s hoping Wheeler is up to the task Friday night.