Zack Wheeler held a 14 minute press conference with reporters at Turner Field this afternoon ahead of his major league debut on Tuesday.
Wheeler said he does not see himself as a savior.
“I don’t think I’m the savior at all. We’ve got great arms here and we’ve got great players. 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 help the team any way I can.”
He doesn’t expect to treat his first MLB start any differently than any other start and doesn’t feel he has to live up to Matt Harvey.
“He set the bar so high. Matt just took off, but I’m in majors to just pitch my game and be myself.”
“Some people expected it. Some people didn’t. I’m just going to go out there and do the best that I can. People can take it how they want it. Hopefully I’ll do well and just be up there with him.”
He feels his experience at Triple-A Las Vegas was valuable. It toughened him up and taught him how to battle.
Turner Field will be packed with plenty of family and friends tomorrow night, as the Georgia native will be playing in front of his hometown crowd.
“I grew up watching Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux,” he said.
He got some advice from his brother last night who told him, “Whatever you do, don’t go up there and look up, ’cause all the lights and the fans and everybody will be moving and make you sick.”
Wheeler will wear uniform No. 45 because it’s his favorite and he’s worn it since he was 12 years old.
Here’s a video of the presser from SNY.
This is pretty damn exciting, I can’t wait…
On Tuesday, during the second game of a doubleheader against the first place Atlanta Braves, Mets prized pitching prospect Zack Wheeler will make his long anticipated major league debut.
For Wheeler, he will feel unlike any other pitching prospect who who is making his first big league start. He’ll be wound up tighter than the guts of a baseball and those butterflies will be fluttering in his stomach. And then it all goes from surreal to real when that first pitch is fired toward home plate… Will he hear the pop of the leather or the crack of a bat?
Before Wheeler there was that other much ballyhooed Mets debut… The one from that pitcher whose stuff wasn’t nearly as good as Wheeler’s – I’m talking about righthander Matt Harvey.
He of course burst onto the scene with an 11 strikeout gem against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was the most strikeouts a pitcher has had in his debut since Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals whiffed 14 in June, 2010 against Pittsburgh.
Harvey pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three hits and no earned runs and for good measure went 2-for-2 with a double in his only two at-bats. Since that day, Harvey has become an unstoppable force and is now among the National League’s elite.
Tough act to follow? Ironically enough, that’s exactly what Wheeler will be doing tomorrow as Harvey is slated to pitch the first game of the twin-bill.
When you compare Wheeler and Harvey’s minor league numbers, the similarities are so uncanny it’s scary, but will those similarities play out at the major league level? We’re all about to find out.
Last week I asked Lynn Worthy, who covers the B-Mets and has seen both of them pitch, what differences he saw in the two and he told me, the obvious similarities were how hard they threw hitting 96 miles per hour regularly.
“The fact that they were highly-touted prospects before they got here, and how after a few starts opposing hitters just started jumping on the first fastball they saw from each of them.”
Worthy remarked that of the two Harvey was very intense. “I still recall talking to him after his final start – he went just three innings, gave up four runs and walked four – and he wanted no part of talking about the season as a whole. All he could do was boil over his last start.”
While he agreed with the scouts who all say Wheeler has the best pure stuff and plus pitches, he also noted that he struggled to command certain pitches.
“When you looked at Wheeler, he didn’t give off the intensity that Harvey did. However, Wheeler always seemed confident in his stuff even when he didn’t have his best.”
While both pitchers measure in at 6’4″, Wheeler has a lanky frame at 185 pounds, while Harvey packs an additional 40 pounds checking in at 225. Both have great frames for pitchers. Harvey reminded many scouts of Roger Clemens and in fact even Clemens himself said that Harvey is the first pitcher he’s seen that reminds him of himself. I’ve seen Wheeler compared to many pitchers ranging from Matt Cain to A.J. Burnett to Philip Humber.
Tomorrow should be an exciting day for Met fans as the future of the franchise will be on full display for the first time since Sandy Alderson became the general manager. Wheeler represents what many feel is his one singular signature move. He and the team have a lot riding on what happens tomorrow.
The scouts were all wrong about Harvey having the ceiling of a number two pitcher, but lets hope they are all right about Wheeler having the ceiling of an ace pitcher.
One thing is certain though… Tomorrow you can throw away everything you ever heard about Wheeler… You can ditch all the comparisons… Forget what he did in the minors… And even trash everything the scouts and experts had to say… Tomorrow we’ll all see what we have in Wheeler for ourselves.
Here’s to another smashing Mets debut…