HEADLINE

Mets, Wheeler roll into series finale with Dodgers

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 12:08 am.

LOS ANGELES — The Zack Wheeler Express does not look like it is about to slow down any time soon, even if his last outing ended with a hard-luck loss.

It should have been enough when Wheeler gave up one run in a loss at San Francisco on Friday. He will return to the mound Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

The right-hander’s August numbers included a 1.13 ERA and he somehow had a loss and no-decision among his six starts, although it should not come as a surprise on a Mets team where Jacob deGrom appears to the National League Cy Young Award favorite with a 9-8 record.

The only reason Wheeler (9-6, 3.37 ERA) is not celebrating an August Pitcher of the Month award in the NL is because new Chicago Cubs lefty Cole Hamels had a 0.69 ERA in his six starts. The Dodgers know that runs will be at a premium, although Wheeler is 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA in two starts against them.

“That’s the plan every time; it’s just been happening,” Wheeler said, according to mlb.com. “I’ve been able to go out there and really get it done. I’m happy about it and I’m going in the right direction.”

Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-1, 2.24 ERA) has not been as good as Wheeler of late, but the Dodgers are hardly complaining. Since coming off the disabled list Aug. 15 after spending 3 1/2 months on the shelf with a left groin strain, Ryu is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA over 22 2/3 innings. He is also 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts versus the Mets.

When Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda were moved to the bullpen upon Ryu’s return, it raised eyebrows. But Ryu has justified the move by contributing during a division title chase in what is the final year of his original six-year contract with the Dodgers.

What Ryu showed in his last outing, an eventual victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, is that he is tough to rattle. He gave up a first-inning home run to Paul Goldschmidt, but kept his team in the game and the Dodgers eventually rallied for a key victory.

Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner rallied the Dodgers with late home runs, but Ryu helped set the stage.

“All we’ve got to do is focus on this month,” Kenley Jansen said, according to the Los Angeles Times, after recording the save in the game Ryu started. “Let this month motivate me, motivate us, and for us, it’s just about going out and trying to win the division.”

Turner was named August Player of the Month in the NL after hitting .402 with six home runs, 20 RBIs, 22 runs, 11 doubles and a 1.213 OPS. Manny Machado, who had two hits in each of the first two games of the series against the Mets, closed out August with seven home runs in 13 games.

The Dodgers had been finding it tough to score runs before breaking out for 11 on Tuesday. They entered Tuesday’s game with 2.33 runs scored in their previous six contests and have to figure out how to produce for a second consecutive night against Wheeler during a 4:30 p.m. local start when the shadows created by the setting sun could create visibility issues.

Los Angeles is one-half game behind Colorado in the NL West.