There will be plenty of eyes focused on a certain top Mets prospect this week at Turner Field, but the prelude to Zack Wheeler's debut figures to be pretty compelling as well.
Before Wheeler, the Mets' top pitching prospect, makes his Major League debut Tuesday, right-handers Dillon Gee and Tim Hudson will take the mound in Monday's series opener in Atlanta. They'll try to set the tone for an unusual five-game set that includes a doubleheader Tuesday.
With Wheeler's impending arrival, every start matters for Gee, who has had an ERA hovering near or above 6.00 for most of the year. But the righty is undefeated this month and has allowed just two earned runs in his last two starts (13 2/3 innings), watching his ERA drop from 5.68 to 4.84 in that span.
Gee is likely battling Jeremy Hefner, who scattered three runs (one earned) and six hits over five innings Sunday, for a rotation spot with Wheeler's arrival. Gee pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in New York's win over the Cardinals on Wednesday, battling through some forearm tendinitis that has been bothering him since Spring Training.
"He had a little tendinitis and pitched great [against the Cardinals]," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Ultimately, it didn't get any worse than it was, but I thought he pitched very, very well. I think he's back."
Hudson, though winless in his last seven starts, has pitched into the eighth inning in two of his last three and seems to have solved the mechanical issues that harmed him in May.
"I feel like the last two or three times out, I'm right where I want to be," Hudson said. "I just don't have a whole lot to show for it from a wins standpoint. But if I just keep throwing the way I have been the last three or four starts, it's going to be a good year."
The veteran righty is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA in six home starts this year.
Braves: Wood to make first start
Manager Fredi Gonzalez announced after Sunday night's game that rookie Alex Wood will start for the Braves in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader. Paul Maholm already was scheduled for the nightcap.
Wood was a starter at Double-A Mississippi, but since the Braves called him up at the end of May, he hasn't topped 36 pitches or two innings while making six relief appearances. That means that the 22-year-old left-hander, a second-round pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, likely will be limited in terms of how long he can go.
• Rookie slugger Evan Gattis will start consecutive games at some point during the series against the Mets, according to Gonzalez. Gattis either will start Monday and in the first half of Tuesday's doubleheader, or in the second half and again Wednesday.
Mets: Offense not helping
While the Mets have endured plenty of pitching struggles this year, the offense lately hasn't been helping, either.
Since sweeping the Yankees on May 30, the Mets have averaged 3.23 runs per game. But Collins believes a turnaround could be around the corner at any time. Perhaps Sunday's late comeback could be the spark.
"Each and every day, you think this is the day we're going to break out of this," he said.
• David Wright has a hit in eight of his last nine games and is 16-for-38 (.421) with two home runs and five RBIs in that span. He has multiple hits in five of the ballgames.
• The Braves have won three of five from the Mets this year, while splitting two games at Turner Field.
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.