There might be some question if Zack Wheeler is ready to assume the role of savior for the New York Mets, despite his and manager Terry Collins’ proclamations to the contrary of those lofty expectations.
With the statistical and financial numbers having been crunched, the decision is it is time to start the clock on Wheeler. The Mets don’t know who’ll be dropped from the rotation. Because of today’s doubleheader, the Mets will go at least one cycle through the rotation with six starters.
Wheeler will start the second game with Matt Harvey taking the opener. That pitching future the Mets have been bragging about? Well, we’ll get a glimpse today.
Ideally, the Mets don’t want to return Wheeler to the minor leagues after today. As their thinking when Harvey came up last year, they want him here to stay. Because Wheeler won’t be activated until between games, rules prohibit him of being in the dugout to watch Harvey.
That will happen soon enough.
“[It will be] a fun day,’’ Collins said this afternoon at Turner Field. “It’s a great thing for this organization and its fan base to see what the future is going to be like. We’ve got two young guys that are going to be very, very, very good.
“Pitching is the name of this game. We’re going to run two guys out there [Tuesday] that can take this organization north pretty fast.’’
Harvey has been exceptional this season, but is just 1-1 with eight no-decisions in his last ten starts. In that span Harvey has given up 19 runs. If nothing else, what Wheeler should learn quickly about pitching on the major league level is there will be times when he’ll have to do it without run support, which is what Harvey is currently experiencing.
Harvey has been successful in large part because of his composure, self-confidence and sense of worth. Harvey understands his stature and expectations of him, but hasn’t let it go to his head.
Wheeler might as well have been reciting a script given him by Harvey.
Continuing his refreshing travel down humility road, Wheeler said: “We might not be doing too well right now, but I know the talent of these guys, and hopefully we can turn it around soon. … I’m just trying to come up here and play the best that I can, help out the team any way I can.
“I know people are going to scrutinize. We aren’t doing too well right now, but hopefully we can turn it around and everybody will like us again.’’
Mets fans have liked Wheeler all spring in hope of what he might give them. Today is his first chance to deliver.
Thoughts from Joe D.
Last night I told one of my friends that today’s doubleheader was giving me the familiar feelings I had when Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman were taking the mound back in 1968. Back then, Seaver was embarking on his second full season as a major leaguer and Kooz was about to pitch his first. They each delivered on their promise that year and suddenly by the time that season was over there was a sense that somehow 1969 was going to be special for the Mets.
Koosman had the better season in ’68 winning 19 games for a team that finished in ninth place and won only 77 games that year. He posted a 2.08 ERA in 34 starts for those Amazin’ young upstarts.
Seaver, on the other hand, already had his smashing debut the season before with 16 wins and a 2.76 ERA. He duplicated that win total the following season and improved his ERA to 2.20.
Wow, what was happening here I wondered…
I spent that fall and winter flipping and trading baseball cards with all the Yankee fans in my neighborhood. My goal was to get as many Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman cards as I could get my hands on. Back then, none of the Mets hitters had a .300 average… none of the Mets hitters had hit more than 15 home runs… and I think Ron Swoboda led the team with 50-something RBIs…
The only thing the team had going for them was Seaver and Koosman and yet somehow there was a feeling that that might be enough.
That was a long time ago my friends…. The game’s changed a lot since then, but the circumstances almost feel the same where Wheeler and Harvey are concerned. I hope I’m right…