New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler came up to the major leagues in 2013, hoping to make a quick impact for his team.
A top pitching prospect in the Mets farm system in 2011 and 2012, his persona and talent was related to fellow pitcher Matt Harvey (who is currently out for the 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery).
Like Harvey, Wheeler rapidly made his way through the minors on his way to the big leagues. After stringing an impressive ’13 campaign with the Mets (went 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA), the young righty looked to double his performance in a bigger outlook in his second season in 2014.
Wheeler’s stats through April and towards the end of June fluctuated a bit in and out to the point where the Mets wondered if he needed more time in the minors.
He managed to put together some quality starts but it also weighed out the bad starts as well. The highest is ERA got was 4.89 when he lost to the Washington Nationals on May 18.
On June 30, however, things started to turn around for Wheeler. After pitching 6.1 efficient innings against the Atlanta Braves, his numbers changed drastically.
More recently, on Friday August 16 to be exact, Wheeler lit up the batters box with a stellar game against the Chicago Cubs. He threw 6 2/3 innings, gave up two runs on four hits while striking out 10.
Wheeler has not lost since June 25 against the Oakland A’s and has won five games since his positively streaky stretch. In his last four starts, he has won three.
In the righty’s last 10 starts, he has pitched at least six to six-plus innings each start. His ERA has dropped from 4.45 to 3.49 (almost an entire point in a month and a half).
During his turnaround stretch, Wheeler is 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 60 innings.
It’s clear Wheeler has learned to mature as the season progresses and even with a role as the fourth starter in the Mets starting rotation he has been a reliable asset.
Wheeler is just a piece of the Mets future that looks all but promising. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have been the #1 and #2 guys at the top of the rotation with Bartolo Colon taking the #3 seat. And let’s not forget Harvey, who is expected to be healthy and at full strength by next season in 2015.
A pitching rotation of Harvey, Niese, Gee, and Wheeler (possibly Colon if he returns) could be a deadly up and down pitching staff in the National League.
Wheeler is on his way to having a stronger arm and becoming more of a grown up pitcher. Once his season is over, the 2015 campaign will be highly anticipated for a guy that could be part of the best 1-2 punch in baseball in the future along with Harvey.
The Mets are close to breaking out into competition for a playoff appearance and very likely a playoff stretch and Wheeler will get the wheels going every time he steps onto the mound.