Zack Wheeler proved why he has the potential to transform the New York Mets into legitimate contenders this week after a sterling pitching performance that saw him take a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins.
The rookie righthander had his no-hit bid broken up with one out in the seventh and settled for a no-decision, but the swagger and fight we saw from him that night told the story.
It was the fifth time this season a Mets pitcher had taken a no-hitter into the seventh, with Matt Harvey having already turned the trick three times this season. Harvey gets the nod this afternoon.
After Wheeler’s start, Mets manager Terry Collins said, “that might have been about as dominant a performance through six innings as I’ve seen all year.” Quite the compliment.
The 23-year-old Wheeler has flashed much of the raw ability and plus offerings that have made him one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the game for three years running.
As the Mets move closer and closer to becoming a perennial contender built on a foundation of formidable starting pitching, Mets fans can begin to see the plan at work as the Mets continue to improve and their confidence as a team unit grows.
Wheeler is still trying to find that consistency with his control, but it’s coming along just fine as he continues to work with pitching coach Dan Warthen after every start as he strives to refine his delivery.
“I just have to figure out my motion,” Wheeler said. “It’s about finding a motion that works for me.”
The key for the young righty will be consistency, and in his last start he delivered perhaps his best and most dominating performance since his promotion. He continues to evolve and as he gets better, so do the odds for a Mets team that is trying to get back into contention.
The Mets can already see the bright futures that lie ahead for Wheeler and Matt Harvey. The two of them have invoked memories of past Mets 1-2 punches like Seaver and Koosman and Gooden and Darling.
The scouts and talent evaluators all agree that the Mets are on the verge of something special. Recently two scouts and two different MLB executives offered high praise for the Mets and their future, and all four went as far as saying that the Mets team and minor league system are superior to that of their crosstown rivals – the New York Yankees.
To that end the Mets will play it safe and ensure that they do not overwork their prized young pitchers. Both of them will have less than ten starts left to the season and their innings pitched will be monitored closely.
The front office and manager Terry Collins will do whatever is needed to protect their investment in the future by going to a six-man rotation, even if it means playing with a short bench.
It’s a risk worth taking and the rewards could come as soon as the 2014 season.