Zack Wheeler delivered in his highly anticipated debut. Now comes the task of following up on that success.
The Mets' rookie right-hander will take the ball on Tuesday night, when New York opens a two-game set at U.S. Cellular Field, its first visit to the White Sox ballpark in more than 10 years.
The Mets come in 5-3 on their 11-game road trip, a stretch that included Wheeler's first big league start, last Tuesday at Atlanta. The 23-year-old top prospect, pitching in his home state, tossed six scoreless innings against the first-place Braves. Although he walked five, he struck out seven and allowed only four hits.
That performance made Wheeler the third pitcher in team history to debut with at least six scoreless innings, following Masato Yoshii in 1998 and Dick Rusteck in 1966. His second outing comes against a White Sox lineup that ranks last in the American League in runs.
At the same time, teams now can start building a book on Wheeler and making adjustments.
"I think every start is a challenge. Every lineup is different," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "To be honest, it will be interesting to see how he does the next time he pitches against the Braves. After they have seen him once, then you really have to make pitches, because they have a feel for what he does and how he does it."
The White Sox will counter with their own young star in 24-year-old Chris Sale, who has never faced the Mets. The left-hander comes in with a 2.69 ERA an 91 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings.
Sale allowed more than two earned runs for only the second time in his past 10 starts on Wednesday at Minnesota. He expended 101 pitches in only five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits.
"I didn't have good command," Sale said. "I was coming out of myself. I just kind of need to gather myself and get the flow again and regroup next time out."
Mets: Wright could start at DH
• Collins said that third baseman David Wright could be in the lineup at designated hitter for one of the two games in Chicago. Wright has played only third while appearing in all 72 of the Mets' games, including 71 starts.
He has started only three games at DH in his career, the last in 2010.
• Another DH candidate would be Zach Lutz, who was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday, with Lucas Duda going on the DL. Lutz will help fill in at first, along with Josh Satin and Andrew Brown, while Daniel Murphy will remain at second.
The Mets decided not to recall Ike Davis from Las Vegas, with the club facing left-handed starting pitchers in three straight games beginning on Sunday.
White Sox: Streak ends for Crain
• Reliever Jesse Crain entered Sunday's game against the Royals with 29 consecutive scoreless appearances, a streak that spanned 29 innings and went back to April 17.
But the veteran right-hander was tagged with a blown save and a loss in the series finale at Kansas City, surrendering three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Although all three runs were unearned, leaving Crain's ERA at 0.52, it was his own error on a sacrifice bunt by Elliot Johnson that extended the inning.
• Adam Dunn clubbed his 20th home run of the season on Sunday, giving him 426 for his career and tying him with Billy Williams for 46th place on the all-time list. Dunn has seven homers in his past 14 games and now has reached 20 for the 11th time.
• The teams split two games in New York last month. Their only other matchup came when the White Sox took two of three in Chicago in June 2002.
• The White Sox, who are 16-14 at home, are beginning a nine-game homestand at U.S. Cellular Field.