Sandy Alderson told reporters yesterday that the organization will limit top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to 180 to 185 innings this season, likely meaning he will have to go through an end-of-season shutdown, similar to Matt Harvey last year.
Alderson said the organization prefers to add no more than 30 innings per year to a pitcher’s workload. Wheeler pitched 149 innings last season and 115 in 2011. So far this season, Wheeler, in nine starts, has accumulated 48.1.
Wheeler, 22, has posted a 3.91 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in those 48.1 innings. He has struck out 49 (9.1 K/9) and walked 20 (3.7 BB/9) this season. Wheeler returned to the Las Vegas 51s last week after missing a start due to an inflamed AC Joint. He is likely to join the Mets towards the middle or end of June, once the Mets feel he won’t be in danger of achieving Super Two status, giving him an extra year of arbitration.
Updated by Joe D. on 5/27
On another note, the New York Post raised the question of whether Wheeler would be ready to tackle the spotlight of the New York media after one of the Las Vegas beat reporters told them Wheeler blew him off last night and copped an attitude.
The only concern about Wheeler is whether is he ready mentally for the media frenzy that awaits him when he eventually arrives in Flushing Queens. A red flag was raised recently when Wheeler reportedly “big-timed” one of the beat reporters covering the Mets Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. Wheeler supposedly copped “an attitude” at an interview request.
Maybe it was nothing. Maybe Wheeler was having a bad day. But maybe it’s a sign Wheeler might not be ready to handle the bright lights and the microphones that will greet him when he is called up.
“I went to do a story on him and he brushed me off,” Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal told the Post yesterday. “He was giving me an attitude for sure, and I’m just one guy in Vegas asking for an interview. What’s he going to do in New York?” It’s valid question.
For now the Mets wait for Wheeler to see if he’s ready for the big time instead of acting like it. He can’t get here soon enough.
Last season, we had two somewhat similar incidents with Zack Wheeler. The first one was when he was with Double-A Binghamton. After interviewing the B-Mets pitching coach, we greeted Wheeler with a nod of the head and as we started walking toward him he quickly turned and made a beeline for the dugout and into the clubhouse with his head down and avoiding eye contact. The second time, a week or two after he was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo, he politely declined our interview request.
In both of our cases, we didn’t feel wronged or slighted in any way. Sometimes there are just other things going on in the background that we are not aware of, and that goes for all players, not just Wheeler. He could have had a scheduled workout or a meeting with one of the coaches or just needed some alone time. The point is we don’t really know the whole story so we shouldn’t speculate or draw conclusions just because a player snubs an interview request. It happens all the time… You just move on and interview another teammate instead.
Wheeler is expected to be promoted after 2-3 more good starts. “If he’s healthy, he’ll be promoted,” said Sandy Alderson. That’s expected to happen some time in the next two weeks and what a media frenzy that will be.