NEW YORK - The Washington Nationals will finally get their first look at Austin Voth on Saturday afternoon. Might the New York Mets be getting their last look at Zack Wheeler?
Voth will make his major league debut Saturday when he is scheduled to oppose Wheeler in a battle of right-handers in the third game of a four-game series between the Nationals and the host Mets at Citi Field.
The Mets evened the series Friday night when Noah Syndergaard, making his first start in seven weeks, picked up the win after allowing one run in five innings of New York's 4-2 victory.
For Voth, Saturday's appearance will be a debut a long time in coming. The 26-year-old is in the midst of his fourth stint this season with the Nationals, but each of his first three trips to the bigs ended after just a day. He didn't pitch on April 29 or as the 26th man in a doubleheader on May 16 (when the games were rained out) and June 18.
Upon welcoming Voth again on Tuesday, Nationals manager Dave Martinez promised this promotion would come with an actual big league appearance, either in relief over the subsequent couple of days or as a spot starter Saturday, when Washington plays the 17th game in an 18-day stretch without a day off.
"He's been up four times already and he hasn't pitched yet," Martinez told reporters Tuesday. "So he's going to get an opportunity to pitch."
Voth will be the second pitcher this week to make his major league debut against the Mets. Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Enyel De Los Santos earned the win Tuesday when he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings of the Phillies' 7-3 victory.
Voth went 4-5 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A Syracuse. He is 31-40 with a 3.48 ERA in six professional seasons since the Nationals selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Washington.
Wheeler (2-6, 4.42 ERA) will take the mound as perhaps the pitcher most likely to be dealt by the free-falling Mets (38-54), who have gone 27-53 since an 11-1 start. New York is reportedly reluctant to deal ace-caliber right-handers Jacob deGrom, who leads the majors with a 1.68 ERA, and Noah Syndergaard. Left-hander Steven Matz remains under team control through 2021.
Wheeler, on the other hand, is due for free agency after next season, which could make him an attractive target to teams looking for more than just a rental. The New York Daily News reported nearly one-third of the league -- nine teams, including the crosstown New York Yankees -- have sent scouts to check out Wheeler's recent starts.
On Friday, though, Syndergaard expressed hope the Mets would try to keep the band together for at least another season. DeGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler and Matz have combined to post a 3.03 ERA in 66 starts this year.
"I think everything's starting to come into place," Syndergaard said. "Wheeler's throwing the ball really well, he's on the mound (Saturday). Matzie's throwing the ball really well and what Jake's doing is very impressive. It's a lot of fun to watch. He deserves that start in the All-Star Game."
Wheeler didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up three runs over 4 2/3 innings in the Mets' 4-3, 10-inning win over the Phillies. It was the first time since May 16, a span of nine starts, in which Wheeler did not last at least five innings.
Wheeler is 2-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 11 career starts against the Nationals, whom he's faced more than any other opponent.
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