The Mets beat the Nationals 5-3 in their Grapefruit league opener this afternoon. But most Met fans didn’t care about the score – they were more interested in getting an eyeful of the Mets’ top prospect, Zack Wheeler. The kid didn’t disappoint.
Wheeler is a man of few words, as those who’ve met him would tell you, but today in sunny Florida, he let his pitching do all the talking and delivered two scoreless innings against the defending NL East champs who won 98 games last season.
The 22-year old righthander got off to an ominous start when we walked the first batter he faced, the ever so dangerous (not really) Steve Lombardozzi, who then quickly advanced to second base after a wild pitch to budding star Bryce Harper that was ruled a passed ball.
But after a meeting on the mound led by new catcher John Buck, Wheeler shook it off and did what he does best – blow batters away.
“I asked him, ‘Are you a little too pumped up?’” said Buck to Wheeler. The youngster laughed and said, “Yeah, just a bit.”
Wheeler got Harper to ground out meekly to short, advancing Lombardozzi to third, but then struck out Tyler Moore and Chad Tracy to end the threat and the inning with a dramatic flair.
Wheeler threw 30 pitches in all and topped out at 96 mph with his heater. In his two shutout innings, he allowed one hit, struck out two and walked one.
“After I got settled down after the first couple batters, I think everything went well,” Wheeler said. “I was getting under my slider a little bit. It was backing up, but I still got a few swing and misses out of it.”
Hey, whatever works, right?
What I saw today from Wheeler was a crisp and easy delivery. The ball just exploded out of his hand, even drawing a rave review from one of his victims, Bryce Harper.
“He’s got some good stuff, definitely. He’s exciting to watch, too. They’ve got Harvey and him, two young guys that can really pitch and throw hard and have pretty good secondary stuff. It was good to face a guy like that today.”
Lets end this on that note…