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NYM@ARI: Wheeler holds D-backs to one run over 6 1/3

As the season winds down, both the Padres and the Mets are dealing with how to best handle the number of innings for their young pitchers.

New York will almost certainly shut down starters Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler at some point this season, but the team has not said when it will do so.

The Mets will travel to San Diego to begin a four-game series with the Padres on Thursday, and Wheeler will start the first game.

He has already thrown 125 2/3 innings this season between the Minor Leagues and the Mets, after pitching 149 innings last year between Double-A and Triple-A. Important in his last start, a 4-1 victory in Arizona, was that he did not walk a batter for the first time this season; he entered the game with the third-highest walk rate in baseball.

For the Padres, most of their top young pitchers are still in the Minor Leagues, with the exception of Andrew Cashner. The club does not necessarily have a hard ceiling but has been finding ways to reduce the pitchers' innings.

They have implemented a six-man rotation in Class A Fort Wayne to protect their top prospects, something the Mets used earlier in the Majors. Padres manager Bud Black would not rule out that his team would use six starters after the rosters expand Sept. 1, when the Padres will most likely add an influx of pitchers.

"With that extra day in there, these guys are sometimes pitching once a week," said Randy Smith, the team's vice president of player development and international scouting.

Thursday's Padres starter, Tyson Ross, spent much of the season in the bullpen as a long reliever, so his innings are not much of a concern for the Padres.

The 26-year-old has been a pleasant surprise and is emerging as a part of the rotation in 2014 and beyond for the Padres, going 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA in his past four starts.

Mets: Flores may return this weekend
A disabled list stint is still possible for Wilmer Flores, but manager Terry Collins is hopeful his third baseman will return from a twisted right ankle this weekend in San Diego.

"If we're talking four or five days from now, then that's an issue," Collins said. "But if he recovers pretty fast, he should be able to play this weekend. If not, then we have issues."

Flores tied a club record with nine RBIs in his first six Major League games. The 22-year-old rookie is 7-for-27 this season.

Padres: Lingering soreness sidelines Maybin
Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin has been experiencing soreness in his right knee, hindering his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson, where he has not played since Aug. 6.

He has been reduced to hitting in the cage and running at about 75 to 80 percent.

Maybin has been on the disabled list since June 12 with a tear in his posterior cruciate ligament, and there is no timetable for his return.

Worth noting
• The Mets' Marlon Byrd has one hitless at-bat against Tyson Ross; otherwise, neither starter has any history against the other team's hitters.

• Padres outfielder Will Venable extended his career-best hit streak to 11 games with an infield single in the fifth inning Wednesday.

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