Alex Wood wants to be known as an elite pitcher, and Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez believes he has the tools to accomplish that goal.
The left-hander looks to stay hot Tuesday night as Atlanta opens a three-game road set with the New York Mets and starter Dillon Gee, who hasn't won since beating the Braves a month and a half ago.Wood (9-9, 3.05 ERA) has a 2.83 ERA in 18 starts this season while also making 11 appearances out of the bullpen. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last five starts, going 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA.He blanked Pittsburgh through seven innings Wednesday, but allowed the first two hitters to reach in the eighth before being removed. Both ended up scoring and the Braves eventually fell 3-2.Still, Gonzalez has been impressed with Wood's recent run."He's been terrific," Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "He's got that mentality to be a top-tier pitcher in the major leagues, and to be in that category, you've got to go out and go eight innings, go complete games. He wants to do it. And that's more than half the battle."Wood allowed three runs in six innings of Atlanta's 5-3 win over the Mets on June 30, and he'll look to help the Braves bounce back after dropping the final two of a four-game set with Cincinnati following Sunday's 5-3 defeat.Atlanta (68-63), which is fighting to keep pace in a tight NL wild-card race, had won seven of eight prior to the back-to-back losses."We've been good," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "It was just one of those days. We're not going to win every game, but we gave a good fight."The Braves are 3-4 against the Mets at Citi Field this season, including when Gee lowered his ERA to 2.56 after allowing one run in seven innings of a 4-1 win over Atlanta on July 9.Gee (4-6, 3.84) hasn't won since, going 0-5 with a 5.71 ERA in seven starts following the All-Star break."He's a better pitcher than he's showing," manager Terry Collins said.The right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Oakland on Tuesday."It's difficult and it's frustrating," Gee said. "All I can do is try to take the positives out of this, keep working hard and try to turn it around."Gee has been excellent against the Braves recently though, going 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his last four starts. He could be in line for some solid run support if the Mets (61-70) hit like they did in Sunday's 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer, added a solo shot and drove in five runs for New York, which had lost five of its previous six before accounting for its most runs and hits (14) since beating Philadelphia 11-2 with 15 hits July 30.Bartolo Colon earned the victory in his first start since the death of his mother, but the Mets placed the 41-year-old on waivers at some point this weekend.Colon reportedly cleared waivers Monday, making him eligible to be traded to any team, and New York seems open to making a move."I don't really think about those kinds of things," Colon said. "My part is to pitch."David Wright left Sunday's win in the third inning with neck spasms, and Daniel Murphy left early with a right calf cramp. It's unclear if either will play in this contest.