By Gem Tablak
After a couple of setbacks, Zack Wheeler is still rehabbing & is set to return in late August or possibly & more probably in early September. But with Harvey out for the year & Matz showing spurts of inconsistency, can the Mets really count on Wheeler to step up & be the team’s number 3 ace?
In 2014, Wheeler made 32 starts & had a record of 11-11. He pitched a 185.1 innings while sporting a 3.54 ERA & a 1.33 WHIP. Personally, I’ve always felt that Wheeler has a hard time staying in the strike zone & it wasn’t much different when I watched him in Vegas playing for the AAA affiliate, The 51’s. What’s always been most concerning is his pitch count, there were many occasions where he would have been in the middle of 5th with 90 plus pitches & I don’t feel you can depend on a pitcher of that caliber.
Now hey, we can all wish & pray that Wheeler has turned a corner, I feel like we have to remember that he’s still a young pitcher at the age of 26. While he may not be young when it comes to the league average age, there have been pitchers in the past that have “figured it out” at much later ages & phases in their careers, Colon being a perfect example. But the Mets need Wheeler to be better than what Matt Harvey was bringing to the table this year. Now normally we’d all be like “Yea right” but Harvey was putting up numbers comparable to number 5 starters.
Now to answer my own question, can Wheeler save the Mets rotation? In my opinion is yes he can, the Mets don’t really need him to jump on board & be the 3rd ace but they damn sure need him to be a damn sure good number 3 starter in the rotation behind deGROM & Syndergaard & in front of Matz & Colon. If he can eat 6 innings each outing while keeping the team in the game, he would most definitely be a huge relief on someone like Verrett, who’s numbers show he’s much more efficient coming out of the pen. But if Wheeler is at 90 pitches in the 5th per norm, the Mets may need to look into other options.