Wheeler struggles in fourth start at Triple-A

Wheeler struggles in fourth start at Triple-A

NEW YORK -- The dominance the Mets hoped to see from Zack Wheeler this season has yet to surface at Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler walked six batters over 4 1/3 ineffective innings in his fourth start Friday night, giving up four runs in a loss to Sacramento.

"That's a red flag," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I don't want to see walks from those guys."

With 12 walks in 18 1/3 innings this season, that red flag has surfaced more often than the Mets would like, resulting in a 4.91 ERA and quieting early calls for his promotion to the big leagues. Wheeler walked only 59 batters all year in 2012, earning a late-season promotion from Double-A Binghamton to Triple-A.

"There's got to be a reason for it," Collins said. "He's got good enough stuff that if he pounds the zone, he'll get people out."

Collins had yet to discuss Wheeler's latest outing with Triple-A manager Wally Backman by Saturday morning, but said he planned to. In the interim, he chalked much of Wheeler's early struggles up to the hitter-friendly environment in the desert.

"When you're pitching in Las Vegas, due to the ballpark, sometimes you overthrow because you just don't want to get hit," Collins said. "Sometimes in those parks, guys pitch away from contact because contact means danger in those little parks [where] the ball flies."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.