After pitching the best game of his career in his previous start for the New York Mets, Zach Wheeler followed it up with the worst start of his career. These are the growing pains the team must suffer through for success in the future.
Wheeler pitched a complete game three-hit shutout on last Thursday against the Miami Marlins. Unfortunately, tonight he only lasted a career-worst two innings and gave up a career high six earned runs as his team lost 8-5. In the post game press conference, manager Terry Collins implied that perhaps the 111 pitches thrown in the complete game last Thursday may have affected him and that the team will be more cautious with the 24-year-old. These kind of inconsistencies and work limitations are the price the Mets must pay now in order to develop this current crop of young pitchers into an elite pitching staff to anchor the team in 2015 and beyond.
With the team now six games under .500 and 5.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East, the Mets have no need to concern themselves with pitcher wins and losses. Obviously every team plays to win each time they take the field, but in a non-contending season, it is more important to let the young players get the opportunity to develop and be pushed. Wheeler, like most pitchers with less than a full season under their belt, is still a work in progress. After tonight’s game, he is 3-8 with a 4.45 ERA for the season. On paper those numbers are disappointing, but the truth the Mets need to suffer through tough outings such as tonight in order for Wheeler to grow and learn how to find a consistent balance between this and last Thursday’s gem. The same is true for Jacob deGrom and other young pitcher the Mets try to develop in the near future.
Right now, letting Wheeler suffer through and bounce back from nights like this will give him the confidence and experience he needs to help this rotation anchor the team in the near future.