I received an email from Justin after I posted about which Mets prospects will make their debut in 2013 and what the odds were.
I liked your post about the 2013 Debuts and was wondering if we could see Wheeler or anyone else hit the ground running the same way Matt Harvey did last season. What do you think Wheeler will do when he finally arrives and will he be as good or even better than Harvey?
Joe D. replies…
First of all, it’s important to note that what Matt Harvey did after he was promoted to the Mets was not exactly the kind of debut you see all the time. He tossed 5.1 shutout innings and his eleven strikeouts set a new Mets’ record for a major league debut, smashing Seaver’s previous mark of eight K’s set in 1967.
Harvey’s ten starts as whole were nothing short of remarkable. His 2.73 ERA ranked third all time for a Mets rookie season behind only Jim McAndrew (2.28, 1968) and Dwight Gooden (2.60 in 1984). Harvey’s 10.6 K/9 was the second highest mark in Mets history, trailing only Dwight Gooden who posted an 11.4 K/9 in 1984.
Now lets get back to Zack Wheeler. Not only does this promising young right-hander have enough pressure by having to prove he was worth trading Carlos Beltran for, or that he must live up to the lofty expectations Sandy Alderson placed on him as the poster boy for a future Mets utopia that begins in 2014, but on top of all that he has to follow-up a spectacular debut by Matt Harvey. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pressure on my worst enemy.
I took a look at some other MLB debuts by top prospects and found that Clayton Kershaw debuted with a 4.26 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, Justin Verlander broke in with a 7.15 ERA, Matt Latos checked in with a 4.62 ERA, and in his first full season David Price posted a 4.42 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 23 starts. All four of them were just as highly regarded (if not more) as Zack Wheeler is now. Get the picture?
I’m not saying Wheeler won’t come in and dazzle – nobody can predict what the future will hold. All I’m saying is that what Harvey did last season was the exception and not the rule.
Wheeler will have his work cut out for him by trying to meet the enormous expectations he already has on his shoulders and doesn’t need or deserve anymore added pressure.
Let’s just give the kid a break and let him do his best whatever his best ends up being. He’s 22 and no matter what happens in 2013 – good or bad – I’m pretty certain that it won’t define the rest of his career. He’s a tremendous prospect with electric stuff and every scout who has seen him loves him. For now, that’s good enough for me.