NEW YORK -- Zack Wheeler remains a work in progress. That much has been clear through his three starts with the Mets. He's shown he can be dominant at the Major League level, but he has been inconsistent.
One day after watching Wheeler struggle against the Nationals in a start in which he gave up five runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings, Mets manager Terry Collins said Wheeler's main issue was command. But after discussing Sunday's start with Wheeler, Collins said he's "excited" to see Wheeler back out on the mound in four days.
While a dip in velocity had Collins concerned on Sunday, he said Wheeler's performance was better on tape than what the scoreboard read during the game. Catcher John Buck also started calling for more two-seamers, hoping Wheeler could hit his spots if he pulled back a bit on his velocity.
"He actually made some pretty good pitches," Collins said. "He just missed a couple locations on balls that came back to hurt him."
Wheeler cruised through the first inning against Washington, getting two strikeouts and a groundout on just 13 pitches. His day became much more arduous after that, as the Nationals took advantage of his mistakes. They rarely bit at his slider, instead waiting for Wheeler to miss his location with a fastball.
The hype surrounding Wheeler making his home debut didn't help either, Collins said. It just added more for Wheeler to think about at a time when he's still trying to get comfortable on a Major League mound.
"Hopefully he relaxes in his next start and it gets him back into a groove to where he's more comfortable," Collins said. "I think he's realistic to know he's got the stuff to pitch here, he's good enough to pitch here."
As the process of turning Wheeler into a consistently dominant Major League pitcher continues, the Mets are confident his potential is on the verge of turning into better results.
"I expect him to be much better his next start," Collins said.
Lyon, Mets' bullpen hit speed bump in Nats series
NEW YORK -- Brandon Lyon's biggest problem right now might be that hitters are simply seeing too much from him.
"You look at Brandon Lyon and he's getting into deep counts," Mets manager Terry Collins said, "instead of getting guys out early in counts."
Lyon gave up a career-high six runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Nationals on Sunday. On Friday, he gave up a bases-clearing double to Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, spoiling Matt Harvey's dominant start.
His struggles have only been part of the problem for the Mets' bullpen.
Over the last three games, Mets relievers have given up 13 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings, and that comes after a span of 43 innings in which the Mets' relievers only allowed six runs.
The bullpen's inconsistency this season hasn't allowed Collins to give any reliever a defined role, with the exception of closer Bobby Parnell. But Collins said Monday that it hasn't been much of a problem.
"They'll pitch whenever they're asked to pitch," Collins said. "That has made it a lot easier. Having quality veteran guys down there has helped."
Tejada heads to Triple-A Las Vegas to continue rehab
NEW YORK -- When Ruben Tejada injured his right quad on May 29, a demotion was on the horizon. The 23-year-old shortstop was struggling at the plate, with an average that hung around the low .200s, and making mental mistakes in the field and on the basepaths. Instead, he headed to the disabled list.
More than a month later, Tejada is heading to Triple-A Las Vegas as he works his way back to the Major League club. Tejada played nine innings with the Gulf Coast League Mets on Monday before being transferred to the 51s -- his last stop as he tries to play his way back to New York
"Last time he was here, he was struggling, and in order to come back you've got to have some confidence in what you're doing," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
When Tejada went on the DL, he was batting .209 with a .267 on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter. He had 10 extra-base hits all season and hadn't hit one in more than two weeks.
Collins said he wants Tejada to "have some success" in Las Vegas before he returns to the big league club. Playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League could give him an opportunity to recapture his swing and some of the confidence he may have lost.
"I want him to go down there and have some success," Collins said, "so that when it's time to come back, his game's where it belongs and where he feels good about it."
Mets, D-backs honor fallen firefighters
NEW YORK -- With the Arizona Diamondbacks in town, the Mets observed a moment of silence Monday to honor the 19 firefighters who died Sunday in Yarnell, Ariz..
The 19 firefighters died while fighting a forest fire in the small town about 80 miles north of Phoenix. Commissioner Bud Selig asked all clubs to hold moments of silence prior to tonight's games in light of the tragedy.
"Our hearts are aching for the fallen firefighters and the entire community turned upside down by this unfair act of weather and nature," Arizona's president and CEO Derrick Hall said in a statement. "It is devastatingly amazing how quickly our lives can change in a matter of moments. We understand our social responsibility and are fortunate to be in a position to assist those in need, as we have seen first-hand the impact we can have on our community."
The D-backs are also wearing black bands on their right arms tonight and will wear their black jerseys with Arizona across the front instead of the tradition D-backs when they return from their road trip. They will also sport a memorial patch honoring the victims for the rest of the season.
Both New York and Arizona are hanging jerseys in their dugouts with the No. 19 and the name "YARNELL" to honor the "Yarnell 19" who perished.
Chris Iseman and David Wilson are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.