NEW YORK -- The beginning of a young pitcher's career is subject to drastic shifts, brought on by larger mistakes and even the smallest quirks.
Zack Wheeler's rookie season has been no different. His debut was brilliant, but then he began tipping his pitches. He threw a dominant seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants, but then was felled by a blood blister that held him to just 4 2/3 innings against the Phillies and endangered his next start. For every opportunity that Wheeler's taken to assert his talent and potential, the cruel whims of a 162-game baseball season have set him back.
"You're in the big leagues, you want consistency," Wheeler said. "You're a starting pitcher, you want consistency."
After surrendering a leadoff home run to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Wheeler settled in and held the Phillies scoreless for the next four innings. But he started to unravel. As the blister wore on him, he threw first-pitch balls to seven of the last nine batters he faced, went to two-ball counts on all six hitters he faced in the fifth inning and walked a pair of them. It wasn't just one pitch that was affected.
"Everything, really," he said. "It's a big blood blister where you release the ball, so it's going to affect it a little bit, but hopefully it's healed up."
Wheeler did admit that the blister wore on him.
"It got bigger every inning," he said.
While the blister coincided with his struggles on that particular day, Wheeler said it's also something he's dealt with before, but he hasn't had issues in the past. It's calloused over, and he's set to start on Thursday against the Braves.
"Try to take the good stuff for the good stuff and leave the bad behind," Wheeler said. "That's really all there is to it."
As he heats up, Ike explores bunting
NEW YORK -- Ike Davis' first attempt at his new plan didn't go like he hoped. In his first at-bat on Tuesday, Davis tried to bunt for a base hit, but bunted right back to Braves starter Kris Medlen and was out at first.
Davis made up for it four innings later with an RBI double, hitting a two-strike curveball hard off the right-field wall. It was his second straight game with a go-ahead RBI. Those are the types of hits the Mets expect from him.
But while he's starting to hit the ball hard, Davis' second-inning bunt attempt might not be his last.
"I'm going to do it more often," said Davis, who entered Wednesday's game hitting .178.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he didn't necessarily agree with Davis' decision, but he understood it. With Braves third baseman Chris Johnson not expecting a bunt, Davis might have been able to lay down a successful bunt down the third-base line and reached base.
And teams aren't going to start playing for a bunt when Davis is at the plate. Not a fast runner, Davis isn't going to start wreaking havoc on the basepaths on his own by stealing bases.
Still, Collins said Davis' plan to bunt might not always be a bad idea.
"If they're going to let him get on first, let him get on first," Collins said. "I think there are going to be situations where I would prefer that he swing. I understand completely what he did. His game's going to be doing some damage."
Davis has done some damage in the last couple of games, but he still hasn't hit a home run since his stint in Triple-A Las Vegas. He's hitting .256 with two doubles in the 13 games he's been back with the Mets.
Collins said Davis has a tendency to hit balls with a lot of topspin so they don't carry. But the potential for power is certainly there, especially if Davis can hit the middle or lower part of the balls and get some backspin, Collins said.
"He's going to get some homers. He's big and strong," Collins said. "If he keeps hitting the ball on the barrel, he's going to hit some homers."
Unless, of course, Davis follows through on his assertion and actually bunts frequently.
"If I get it down in the right spot, it's a hit," Davis said. "I'm going to definitely try to do that more often."
Spot start for Mets 'happy' development for Mejia
NEW YORK -- Jenrry Mejia stood in front of his locker, trying on a pair of caps.
He plopped one on his head, twisted it around. Not a fit. Then again, with another cap. He placed it on his head and fidgeted with it. Not quite.
Two days ago, the Mets' starter for the first game of their doubleheader on Friday with the Nationals was unknown, even to the player who it would eventually be. The decision came suddenly; on Tuesday, Mejia found out it would be him. He arrived in the Mets' clubhouse the next day without a cap of the ideal size, but less than 48 hours from his first start of the season.
"I didn't know I was even going to be there, and they told me yesterday," Mejia said, "and I feel pretty happy about it."
In 2010, Mejia joined the Mets as their top prospect. He went 0-4 with a 4.62 ERA, but a fastball that touched 98 mph made him a tantalizing young pitcher in the same ilk as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.
Injuries have kept him from delivering on that potential. At 23, he will be the second-youngest player on the Mets' roster, seven months older than Wheeler. Mejia is no longer considered a premier prospect, but he still has years of baseball ahead of him.
"I'm still happy, because I believe in myself," Mejia said. "If I don't believe in myself, who's going to believe me?"
He will be a spot starter Friday and has been strong in two starts in Double-A Binghamton, posting a 0.82 ERA. Mejia still thinks he brings the most to the table, for both himself and the team, as a starter, but he's open to anything the Mets want from him.
"Reliever, starter, closer," he said. "Whatever."
• Lucas Duda played in a rehab game with the Gulf Coast League Mets on Wednesday. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run, and he played five innings in left field.
Terry Collins said the plan is to have Duda play both left field and first base during his rehab games.
Duda has been on the disabled list since June 23 with a left intercostal strain.
• Collins said Jon Niese threw a bullpen session and will likely pitch in a rehab outing sometime within the next week.
• Catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud caught five innings for the Gulf Coast League Mets in a rehab game on Wednesday. He went 1-for-3 at the plate.
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.