Wheeler to the Bullpen? Wait, What?
There are bad ideas and then there are really bad ideas, and the New York Mets considering using Zack Wheeler out of the bullpen falls into the latter category.
Wheeler has thrown a combined 114.1 minors-and-majors innings this season with a cutoff number at 180. With the intent of limiting his innings, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen are mulling using Wheeler out of the bullpen.
This is a bad idea on so many levels, beginning with the up-and-down nature of a reliever. The Mets will say they will only use Wheeler at the start of an inning, but that’s no guarantee. It is still a change in routine and they must scrap this idea immediately.
The Mets’ goal of winning as many games as possible in the second half and limiting Wheeler and Matt Harvey aren’t mutually compatible. The best way to achieve their goal of making a .500 run is to not change their pitching, which has been good.
Pitchers are creatures of habit and Wheeler hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2010. For the past three years, he’s worked in the routine of a starter. Bouncing from starter to reliever in the middle of a season is never a good idea. The Mets should know that by now with Jenrry Mejia, who went from reliever to starter and ended up having Tommy John surgery.
A coincidence? Perhaps, but why take the chance? Considering how the Mets handled Wheeler with kid gloves, thrusting him into a new role is counter productive. It might be different if the Mets were in a pennant race, but they are not.
Figuring ten more starts they should simply cut Wheeler at six innings a game and do not deviate under any circumstances. That would give him 174.1 innings, just under the limit. This way, it keeps Wheeler in his normal routine and eliminate the different strain on his arm caused by working in relief. A starter has a set program, but a reliever does not.
San Francisco used Tim Lincecum out of the pen last year, but he’s a veteran more capable of making the adjustment than Wheeler.
Currently, the Mets are operating with a six-man rotation, which could go back to five once Jonathan Niese comes off the disabled list. The Mets have not said they’ll continue with six when Niese returns. Doing so might not be a bad idea because it would accomplish the dual purposes of monitoring Wheeler and Harvey, not to mention protecting Niese.
If the Mets go down to five, it would give Wheeler and Harvey additional turns. In that case, they should be skipped or pushed back a turn, which is preferable to shaving innings piecemeal..
The Mets haven’t said whether they will have an innings limit on Wheeler and Harvey next season, but if they do, they should map out their plan from the beginning than doing so mid-stream.
About the Author: John Delcos
I am an active member of the BBWAA and have covered Major League Baseball in several capacities for over 20 years, including ten in New York working the Mets' and Yankees' beat. I covered the Baltimore Orioles for eight years and the Cleveland Indians before that.
18 Comments + Add Comment
- the mad met: on MMO Fan Shot: Granderson Is In The House… What’s Next?: Any word on lugaras injury. And...
- EddieMetz: on Juan Lagares Heading To New York (Knee): Juan is the future in CF...pray all...
- Fonzie13: on Carlos Beltran Agrees To Three-Year, $45 Million Deal With Yankees: No you said three years ago people...
- Jason bay: on MMO Flashback: Beltran Will Go Into The Hall Of Fame As A…: Wow! Didn't realize it worked that...
- Jakal: on MMO Flashback: Beltran Will Go Into The Hall Of Fame As A…: BBLB why don't you and Alex just...
MMO Chat: Lets Talk Mets Baseball!
Write For Metsmerized Online
Mets Merized Online is reloading and looking for new writers to help cover the Hot Stove Season. We're also looking for passionate writers who would like to contribute new and original features.
Contact us now at GetMetsmerized@aol.com for more info and join the #1 Mets Fansite on the web!
Check Out These Great MLB Links!
Mets Autograph Signings
Mets Fan Apparel
Mets Autographed Baseballs
Baseball Card Supplies
For the best seats and lowest MLB ticket prices, go to PurchaseSeats.com. Get your Mets Tickets now and follow them on the road with Yankees Tickets, Phillies Tickets, Nationals Tickets and Braves Tickets!