The more the New York Mets struggle, specifically in the starting rotation, the more questions get raised about when top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler will get promoted to the big leagues. Even on the heels of three great starts in a row for Wheeler during which he has struck out 19 in 20 innings while allowing just three runs, the Mets are right to delay promoting Wheeler.
The Mets’ reasons for trying to delay Wheeler’s MLB debut is two fold. First, they want to ensure that Wheeler is ready for the big leagues and has enough minor league experience to be successful when he does come up, much like Matt Harvey experienced last year.
Second, the Mets are hoping to delay Wheeler’s arbitration by a year as they expect him to be a key part of their franchise for a long time. As anxious as fans are to see Wheeler in the big leagues, the Mets are wise to exercise patience with him for both of these reasons.
With the Mets rotation struggling and their season quickly going down the tubes, there is even more reason consider promoting Wheeler as a way to give the team and the rotation a boost, not to mention to energize the fan base by giving them the opportunity to see Wheeler in person. However, there is little to gain and much to lose by promoting Wheeler right now.
It’s going to take a lot more than adding Wheeler in the rotation to turn the Mets season around. He can only throw every fifth day, and even if he performs at a high level, there’s no guarantee it will get the Mets back on track and in the playoff hunt. If the Mets aren’t going to be competitive, and right now they aren’t even close, it makes no sense to promote Wheeler before he’s ready and risk making him arbitration-eligible a year early.
When the time is right, the Mets will promote Wheeler, and fans need to have faith that they will know when that time is. Judging by Harvey’s performance this season, the Mets handled his promotion to the big leagues the right way last year, and they’re capable of doing the same with Wheeler this season.
If the Mets were competitive and Wheeler could make a difference, things would be different. But right now, the Mets are far from contention, and have no reason to take a risk when it comes to their top prospect.