We’ve all heard and participated in the endless discussions about Zack Wheeler. It seems to me that we all focus on the command, which admittedly is an issue, but to me there is a greater issue here.
When I watch a baseball game, I don’t watch for a pitcher to tip his pitches. Last night I was watching the MLB Network, and watched as Joey Cora and Mitch Williams broke down video from Wheeler’s first three big league starts.
For those that didn’t see it, Cora compared Wheeler’s pitches to the scene in Bull Durham when Crash Davis tells the hitter what pitch is coming.
It’s amazing how obvious it was against the White Sox. With a breaking ball he keeps his hands close to his body, and a fastball he has his hands away from his body when he sets up.
Then in the 13-2 drubbing, Cora explains how the Nationals knew every pitch that was coming. With the fastball, Wheeler’s glove was placed on his belt buckle, glove closed with his legs straight. When it was a breaking ball, Wheeler’s glove was placed over his belt buckle, open and his back leg bent.
Cora also explains that there is no way Wheeler just started to do this after his call up. He said he’s probably been doing this for a while. He likely got away with it because a minor league club isn’t getting advanced scouting reports like the big leagues do.
So I thought, let me go and find a video of Wheeler from Las Vegas and see if I can figure out what he’ll throw. I found a video from early May of this year. If you click here you will see the video.
With a runner on first base, tell me it’s not painfully obvious that the first pitch of the video will be a breaking ball? Knee bent, glove open above the belt buckle. It took me literally one google search, and one video to find this.
What an embarrassment for the entire organization!
You have a kid who is as prized a prospect as we’ve seen in years here, and you let him come up to the big leagues tipping his pitches like a little leaguer? As if pitching in New York City isn’t tough enough for a young hyped kid, let’s ignore the fact he can’t throw a fastball without the entire ballpark knowing about it and see what happens! Let’s forget about the fact his breaking ball isn’t getting swings and misses because his opponents are waiting for him to put the fastball on a tee!
These five men failed Wheeler, and I just hope they didn’t fracture him. With all the patience, and all the time it took for Wheeler to come up here, NOBODY noticed what Joey Cora, the White Sox and the Nationals noticed in a matter of days?
You can only hope that Dan Warthen can figure this out, because Wheeler does have command issues without having to mentally keep track of how he’s coming set before he pitches. The command issues can’t even be dealt with until this is fixed, which means Wheeler is going to go through some tough times.
Wheeler deserved better, whether you liked the trade that brought him here or not, he deserved better. He is the one that has to perform – but it’s the organization’s responsibility to ensure that he is ready to pitch in the big leagues. Somebody fell asleep at the wheel on this one, and while it’s more likely the coaches in Las Vegas and the minor league pitching coordinator, it’s still DePodesta and Alderson’s responsibility as well, and they failed.
This is an organizational failure from the top down, and I hope it’s something they can recover from.