For years, the New York Mets have talked about the future, specifically the young arms down on the farm. The future started to become the present last year when Matt Harvey was a Cy Young Award contender before his season-ending injury in August. It really got solidified when Zack Wheeler came up in June of 2013 and pitched very solid for the Mets for the rest of the season, even in Harvey’s absence.
Wheeler came over to the Mets from the San Francisco Giants in a trade for Carlos Beltran. When he did, he joined Harvey as the promising young pitchers in the Mets’ farm system. They are now also joined by Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, who appear to be coming to New York in the near future.
That core of young pitching is going to be led by Wheeler this year. With Harvey out, Wheeler is the only pitcher on this roster who has experienced as much fanfare as Montero and Syndergaard will receive before throwing a single pitch. It’s a good way to see how much potential a guy has to be a clubhouse leader, something Harvey showed a lot of when Wheeler got the call in 2013.
Wheeler has already begun to show said leadership after expressing his desire to be the Opening Day starter. With no clear ace on the pitching staff, it should be Wheeler on Opening Day, if for no other reason than to make a statement. The Mets seemed to give up on 2014 after Harvey underwent surgery. That being the case, they need to make a statement about the future and show their fans that there is reason to believe that 2015 will be different.
Wheeler is in a tough spot this year; his performance doesn’t just effect where he’s slotted in the rotation this year, it affects the entire mood of this team and the fanbase.