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Zack Wheeler to face batters for first time since Tommy John surgery

Right-hander eyes September return.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
Wheeler was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 2014, his only full major league season
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Zack Wheeler will face batters today for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery, potentially setting the right-hander up for an early September return.

Manager Terry Collins said on July 23 that Wheeler would begin a rehab assignment approximately 10 days after pitching to batters and return to the majors a month after that. That would put Wheeler on track for a return around September 10, nearly a year and a half after his operation.

The Mets originally expected Wheeler to return on July 1, just over 15 months after his operation, but Wheeler needed a minor follow-up surgery in April and experienced elbow discomfort in June, so the Mets pushed back his return indefinitely. In July, Wheeler said he hoped to return in August.

Wheeler was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 2014, his only full major league season. The right-hander’s return would be a welcome addition to a Mets rotation that has struggled on the back end. Logan Verrett has a 4.32 ERA since replacing Matt Harvey and Bartolo Colon has a 5.51 ERA in July.