After throwing six shutout innings in his MLB debut last week, New York Mets rookie Zack Wheeler came back down to earth in his second big-league start Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox. Wheeler struck out just one batter as he labored into the sixth inning, allowing four runs.
With Matt Harvey being so dominant for the Mets this season, there were unrealistic expectations for Wheeler to replicate the kind of success Harvey has had. After his debut against the Atlanta Braves, it looked like Wheeler was ready to take off running, but his start Tuesday night showed just how raw and unpolished he is compared to the slightly more experienced Harvey, and how Wheeler is still a work in progress.
In both of his starts, Wheeler has struggled with his control, walking eight total batters. The right-hander’s propensity for walking batters was the biggest concern for him during his time in the minors, and while he showed signs of progress before his promotion, it’s a problem that is far from solved.
Not only has Wheeler had difficulty throwing his secondary pitches for strikes, but he’s also been missing the strike zone a lot with his fastball, which has caused him to labor and throw a lot of pitches in stressful situations with runners on base.
Against the White Sox, Wheeler was apparently tipping his pitches, which undoubtedly contributed to his struggles in that game. While tipping pitches a problem that can be corrected quickly, it’s evidence that the youngster still has a lot to learn about pitching and that he has a lot of developing left to do, despite making it to the big leagues.
To a certain extent, the Mets have been spoiled by Harvey this year and unfairly expected Wheeler to immediately match his level of success. While Wheeler has the talent to perform the way Harvey has, he’s not there yet, and he may not even be that close. But, it should be fun to watch him grow and develop as he tries to reach his potential.