For those of you hoping to see Zack Wheeler build upon his last start, tonight’s results will come as a disappointment to you. Unfortunately for Wheeler, he never seemed to find his comfort zone, and he walked a season high six batters tonight and failed to complete the fifth inning before Wally Backman had seen enough and pulled him from the game.
His overall line left a lot to be desired, as he allowed four earned runs off three hits and the aforementioned six walks, while striking out four in 4.1 innings.
Wheeler is under a lot of pressure as the Mets’ top prospect right now and he seems to be running into the same issues he’s always had – walking too many batters. If you break down his start a little further, you can see that he threw 108 pitches. His strike to ball ratio was 61:47, which was rough, and nowhere near the level of efficiency we need to see from him.
He blew a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning, where he was eventually lifted in favor of Greg Peavey. To be fair, Wheeler left with the bases loaded and Peavey allowed all three inherited runners to score, but he was still wild overall and they were his runners.
This was Zack’s second start since the blister problem that was causing him discomfort in his first two starts. This was also one of Wheeler’s worst starts since joining the New York Mets organization after being acquired for Carlos Beltran.
As Mr. North Jersey mentioned in the comments, we can only hope there is no injury issue at play here, and that this is all a part of his growing pains. The potential still remains for Wheeler to become a dominant ace-like pitcher in the near future, so remember that this is all part of the process.
Thoughts from Joe D.
As I said after Wheeler’s last start, was his no-walk performance a sign of things to come, or just a fluke and a blip on the radar given the control problems that have plagued him throughout his pro career?
This is now fourth straight start in which he failed to deliver six innings. It was another start where his pitch count was remarkably bad. 108 pitches and only 61 strikes in 4.1 innings is not going to get anyone promoted to the majors no matter how high you rank on Baseball America’s Top Prospect. You still have to execute.
So far this season, Wheeler has pitched a total of 18.1 innings, averaging only 4.5 innings per start. That’s not going to cut it. He’s walked 12 and allowed 17 hits and his ERA now stands at an unsightly 4.91 his WHIP is now north of 2.00. The thing of it is that you can’t blame all those walks on the PCL or park factors. This has been a chronic problem for Wheeler throughout his career.
Collin McHugh, who I bring up all the time and am very high on, has walked just four batters in 18 innings and has 0.49 ERA to lead the team if you’re looking for a comparison.
And yet despite all of this data, day in and day out Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are constantly bombarded with questions asking when Wheeler will be promoted.
Wheeler simply has not shown any signs that he is ready to take on the likes of Joey Votto, Bryce Harper and a host of other National League sluggers. He is not ready to mow down a major league lineup.
As one scout told Kevin Kernan yesterday, there’s dozens of pitchers who can throw 98 mph. Until Wheeler can consistently string together at least a half dozen quality starts (6.0 IP, 3 ER) calling him up shouldn’t be an option. How does promoting him now help him from a development standpoint, or more importantly how does he help the backend of our rotation?
When your pitch count is consistently around 90 pitches after four innings, how can you possibly provide any relief to an already very taxed Mets bullpen?
You can disagree with me all you want, but this is not a slight mechanical kink he needs to work out. The problem is much deeper than that. Zack Wheeler is simply not ready for major league duty and needs to show he can handle a full season in Triple-A. Currently, there are 30 qualified starting pitchers in the PCL who have a better ERA and WHIP than Zack Wheeler.
Terry Collins said back in March that if Wheeler wanted to make it to the Mets he needed to go to Las Vegas and lead the league in pitching. Wheeler isn’t even close.