Zach Wheeler, Starting Pitcher
Will the real Zack Wheeler please stand up. Oh, if it were only as simple as the Mets knowing the pitcher we saw in the second half of last season is the answer to that question.
Since coming to the Mets via a trade with the San Francisco Giants, Wheeler has cornered the market as a pitcher who attracts enigma as an adjective describing his performance.
Even as a fan tuning into games on TV, Wheeler’s body language signaled in no uncertain terms – Hey, I’ve finally figured this thing out”.
Confidence, in a game surrounded by failure when the 98th pitch that follows all the previous near-perfect pitches, gets slammed into the seats for a two-run home run, turning a win to a loss, remains the elusive element in a pitcher’s career that separates the pretenders from Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and Wheeler’s teammate, Jacob deGrom.
The Mets have always insisted Wheeler’s stuff is there. Injuries have not helped to be sure, but that deer in the headlights “look” so often seen in Wheeler’s presence on the mound made the frustration even more noticeable in loss after loss, even as seen in Zack Wheeler’s first-half (above).
In 2019, the Mets will need a repeat of last season’s 29 starts, close to 200 innings, and a minimum of fifteen wins from Wheeler if they are going to seriously challenge in the super-competitive National League East.
Turning 29 in May, Wheeler is in his final year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the upcoming season. Personally, that ups the ante for Wheeler to have an outstanding year for the Mets as a prelude to being paid well as a free agent.
The Mets have that one-two punch in deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Adding a third punch will ensure the team will be competitive in every series they play, no matter who the opposition is.