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Wheeler looks ahead to MLB debut against Braves

In the wake of Monday's walk-off defeat to the Braves at Turner Field, the Mets could use a boost from the highly anticipated debut of top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is scheduled to start the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader in Atlanta.

Mets fans have anticipated Wheeler's debut since he joined the organization in the deal that sent Carlos Beltran to San Francisco at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2011. Wheeler struck out 73 in 68 2/3 innings with Triple-A Las Vegas in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this year, going 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA.

"I think it's going to be a day for the organization and our fans to get excited about," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "I just hope he settles down and pitches the way he's capable of pitching. If he pitches good, I think there's going to be a little gleam of sunlight here as everybody looks at the big picture of things down the road of what may be."

Wheeler is from Dallas, Ga., so he's expecting a large contingent of supporters to make the 45-minute drive to Atlanta from his hometown.

Mets ace Matt Harvey is scheduled to take the mound in the first game of the twin bill. Harvey had his franchise-record streak of 13 consecutive unbeaten starts to start the season snapped in his last outing, losing to the Cardinals to fall to 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 2013.

While overshadowed by Wheeler's debut, Braves left-hander Alex Wood will make his first Major League start in the opener. He's made six appearances out of the bullpen since he was called up May 30, and is looking forward to the opportunity to showcase his stuff against Harvey.

"He's been one of the best in baseball all year, so it's exciting to be out there surrounded by guys like that, especially pitching against them," Wood said. "Hopefully, I'll rise to the occasion. But that's definitely exciting."

Paul Maholm is lined up to take the mound for the Braves in the second game. The left-hander is 7-5 with a 3.65 ERA in 14 starts this year. Maholm is 6-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 13 career appearances against the Mets, including 12 starts.

Mets: Turner nursing intercostal strain
Justin Turner hasn't progressed from a left intercostal strain, and the Mets infielder could be placed on the disabled list as soon as Tuesday.

Turner had an MRI on Monday morning in New York before joining the club in Atlanta.

"He's just gotten worse the last couple days, so we had him looked at," Collins said.

The Mets need roster spots to make room for Wheeler and reliever Scott Atchison, and placing Turner on the disabled list would open one spot. The club is allowed to carry 26 players for previously-scheduled doubleheaders, thanks to an MLB rule.

Still, the Mets would have to make another roster move following the doubleheader.

Turner's average has dropped to .266 from .378 during an 8-for-50 slump. He's primarily been a first baseman, but has made spot starts at all four infield positions.

Atchison, on the DL since May 14 with right elbow inflammation, pitched consecutive scoreless innings with Double-A Binghamton over the weekend and is expected to be activated in time for Tuesday's doubleheader.

Braves: Beachy suffers minor setback
Atlanta right-hander Brandon Beachy had a minor setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery on Friday, eight days before the one-year anniversary of the surgical procedure.

An MRI on Beachy's right elbow revealed inflammation, but it showed no structural damage. He had been scheduled to start during Tuesday's doubleheader, so his return will be delayed. The Braves do not have a timetable for him to take the mound, though.

"That's what makes it even more frustrating," Beachy said. "But I've just got to keep working and remain focused on getting back out there."

Beachy, 26, said he experienced some stiffness around his pitching elbow during each of his last three Minor League rehab starts. The Braves had him undergo the MRI after he walked three and needed 69 pitches to complete three innings in what was supposed to be his final rehab outing for Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday.

Worth noting
• Harvey has not faced the Braves since last August, when he was charged with two runs on two hits in six innings in a loss.

• The Braves are expected to call up reliever Cory Rasmus from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the 26th spot on their roster for the doubleheader. Comments