For the New York Mets, and more importantly for their fans, the time has almost come: the time for Zack Wheeler to make his MLB debut. Wheeler is scheduled to pitch tonight for triple-A Las Vegas, and starting tonight any start Wheeler makes could potentially be the last minor league start he makes before being called up to the big leagues to make his Mets debut.
Mets fans have been anticipating Wheeler’s debut, rather impatiently at times, for nearly two years, even since general manager Sandy Alderson pulled off the brilliant trade with the San Francisco Giants to acquire Wheeler in exchange for Carlos Beltran. Now, the time when Wheeler is set to join the Mets rotation is almost upon us.
The Mets have stuck by their plan to be patient with Wheeler. They have held back on promoting him in an effort to delay him being arbitration eligible by a year, and they have also made sure he has had time to recover after missing a start due to inflammation in the AC joint in his shoulder. Now three starts, soon to be four starts, removed from that minor setback, the reasons to keep Wheeler in the minors have all but diminished.
Wheeler has been hurt by the long ball lately, giving up five home runs over his last four starts, but in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League it’s hard to know whether or not that would continue to be an issue once he gets to the big leagues. Everything else is as it should be for Wheeler, as he has cut down on his walks and continued to strike out batters at a high rate, averaging one strikeout per inning. Wheeler has also amassed more than 200 innings in the upper levels of the minor leagues, which means he should be well prepared to make the jump to the majors.
We don’t know exactly when it will be, but at this point Wheeler getting his big-league promotion is imminent. We know his next start will come tonight in triple-A, but it’s quite possible that the start after that will come as a member of the Mets.