Today, Zack Wheeler turns 24-years-old. As of right now, he’s the most promising pitcher in the New York Mets starting rotation. And as of a few weeks ago, fans and writers were wondering whether or not he could succeed in New York. Some fans even threw out the idea that the Mets should trade the promising young pitcher. Well, that suggestion was absurd then, and it is even more absurd now, especially after Wheeler’s outing Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wheeler hasn’t gotten off to the start that he and the organization had hoped for, but Thursday’s start against the Phillies was glimpse of what Wheeler could become if the Mets remain patient with him. He only gave up one run on four hits in six and one-third innings. At one point he retired 14 straight batters, and he was in control of everything.
Heading into that start, Wheeler was 1-5 with an ERA over four, and that is because he has had trouble controlling his pitches early on this year. He had the sixth-highest walk ratio of any pitcher in the MLB before Thursday’s game, but the most important thing for Wheeler was that he was able to control his secondary pitches. If he has the ability to locate his changeup and curveball, Wheeler can be almost unhittable. He can become a dominant starting pitcher in the league as long as he gets the time he needs to develop into one.
Wheeler had a lot of pressure on him this year. With Matt Harvey going down, Wheeler was supposed to become the ace of the staff, but that hasn’t happened yet. Everyone is looking at the early success for Harvey and wondering why it’s not the same way for Wheeler, and that isn’t fair to him. Harvey was unique in the fact that his success translated immediately to the major league level. Other pitchers need time to develop, and that is clearly the case with Wheeler. He’s not Harvey. They are different pitchers with different strengths and weaknesses. Wheeler is just taking a bit more time to develop.
Wheeler is going to figure it out. He’s just that good of a pitcher, and he just has that much talent. Once he’s able to control it and throw strikes, the sky is the limit for this kid. Thursday’s start was just a glimmer of how dominant he can be, and hopefully it’s a step in the right direction.