It seems like everyday another member of the New York Mets starting rotation goes down. We know Johan Santana is out indefinitely; now it appears likely that Shaun Marcum will start the season on the disabled list; and yesterday Jeremy Hefner, who is supposed to be Santana’s replacement in the rotation, had to leave his start after getting hit on the elbow by a batted ball. With the injuries starting to pile up, it’s hard not to at least consider the possibility of putting top prospect Zack Wheeler in the rotation at the start of the season.
If the Mets brass did think about it, they didn’t think about it for very long, as manager Terry Collins quickly said that Wheeler wasn’t a possibility. But why shouldn’t he be? Even if Hefner is deemed fine and able to start the season in the rotation, Marcum hasn’t pitched in over two weeks and is nowhere close to being ready to make a regular season start, so the Mets need somebody. With Jenrry Mejia also injured, the only other options the Mets have are Collin McHugh or Aaron Laffey, with Laffey being the most likely choice. Is there enough reason for the Mets to pick either of those two over Wheeler? Not really. Neither Laffey nor McHugh has a lot of major league experience, and neither is anywhere close to being an established big leaguer.
There’s nothing to indicate that Santana will be ready to pitch in the big leagues anytime soon, so why not give Wheeler a chance. He has the stuff, he has the confidence, and he does have some experience at the AAA level. It’s obviously not ideal and it would affect Wheeler’s arbitration and free agency eligibility years from now, but the opportunity is presenting itself, and so it’s a bit shortsighted of the Mets to dismiss the possibility of Wheeler joining the rotation at the start of the season without giving it serious consideration. The move doesn’t have to be permanent. If it’s obvious after a few starts that Wheeler isn’t ready, then he can go back to AAA. But if Wheeler is ready, it’ll be obvious when he steps onto a big league mound and the Mets would just be wasting time by not having him in the big leagues if he were ready. So with opportunity knocking, it’s time for the Mets to answer and give Wheeler a shot to prove himself in the big leagues right now.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.