Zack Wheeler has been one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball since being drafted in the first round (sixth overall) by the San Francisco Giants in 2009, and his major league debut has been expected to come sometime this season. That time has now come, since the New York Mets are expected to call him up to make a start on June 14 against the Chicago Cubs. Should fantasy baseball owners consider adding Wheeler ahead of that outing?
Wheeler started the season slowly at Triple-A Las Vegas, due in part to pitching in a very hitter-friendly environment and being bothered by a blister on his right middle finger, with a 5.70 ERA and a dismal K/BB ratio (28:15) over his first five starts (23.2 innings). But he has turned things around recently, allowing three earned runs or less in each his last six starts (35 innings), with a 2.57 ERA and a 31:9 K/BB ratio over that span. Overall Wheeler is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA over 11 starts (58.2 innings) this season, and he is currently slated to start one more time in Triple-A on Friday night before being called up.
Pitching at home should set Wheeler up for success in his first major league start, and the Cubs currently sit no better than the middle of the pack in the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored. Beyond that time will tell how the schedule sets up for Wheeler, but he belongs on the radar of fantasy owners.
Wheeler is currently owned in 23 percent in Yahoo! leagues, but that should rise over the next week as long as he remains on track to be called up. I think he has greater appeal in NL-only leagues as an immediate waiver wire addition, but mixed league owners should track his progress over his first couple starts and be ready to add him immediately if he pitches well.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.