His absence has added fabric to his legend, allowing his debut to feel a bit like a mirage.

Zack Wheeler dropped six shutout innings on the Atlanta Braves, picked up his first win, got soaked by celebratory teammates, and bagged up a souvenir baseball.

Then he vanished. One day later, another player was dressing at Wheeler’s old locker. Wheeler became the victim of a temporary roster crunch.

The encore arrives tonight in Chicago.

After a six-day break, Wheeler will return to the 25-man roster and take the mound for his second big-league start when the Mets meet the White Sox at Comiskey Park.

“It’s just another start,” Wheeler said on a phone call with reporters Sunday afternoon. “That’s really all there is to it.”

Just another start? Not quite.

Wheeler has long been the embodiment of hope for Mets fans. Even with several members of the organization – including Wheeler – insisting he is not a savior, most fans are hoping he can be.