Chen Facing Wheeler As Marlins Begin Series In New York

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NEW YORK (SportsDirect Inc.) — Zack Wheeler makes the 50th start of his career Friday night when the New York Mets host the Miami Marlins, as the former first-round draft pick returns to a major-league mound for the first time in two years, six months and 13 days.

Wheeler missed all of the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and related setbacks, but reached the mid-90s with his fastball in spring training.

The Mets used strong starting pitching to stifle Atlanta in winning two of three games to begin the season, allowing only two runs on 10 hits in 18 2/3 innings with 17 strikeouts.

Miami survived two long rain delays to salvage the final game of its season-opening series at Washington, winning 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto continues to enjoy hitting away from home as the National League’s leading batter on the road in 2016 went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and scored the game-winning run on Justin Bour’s 10th-inning double for the Marlins on Thursday.

Realmuto hit .583 in the series with four RBIs.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), SNY (New York)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Wei-Yin Chen (2016: 5-5, 4.96 ERA) vs. Mets RH Zack Wheeler (2016: NR)

Chen experienced a frustrating first season with Miami, posting career-worst numbers in ERA, hits per nine innings (9.8) and homers per nine innings (1.6). He missed two months with a left elbow strain, returning to make three starts (0-1, 4.73 ERA in 13 1/3 innings). Chen, who allowed six homers in 19 innings in spring training, held the Mets to one run on three hits in seven innings in his only appearance against the Mets last season.

Wheeler was considered one of baseball’s best young arms before the injury, ranking 10th in the National League in strikeouts while going 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 32 starts in 2014. The 26-year-old debuted with the Mets in 2013, going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA. He finished spring training with seven runs allowed in 12 1/3 innings, but ended camp with five scoreless innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Realmuto hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning Thursday, his second homer of the season.

2. The Mets have won six of the past eight games at home against Miami.

3. Five Miami relievers combined to allow two runs on four hits in five innings after starter RHP Tom Koehler’s day ended due to a rain delay after five frames.

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