As of now, the New York Mets don’t anticipate an innings limitations on Zack Wheeler, who was shut down for his last two starts in 2013.
Wheeler threw 100 innings last year and said an innings limit hasn’t been determined, and if one is later on, it won’t be until after the season starts.
“We haven’t talked about an innings limit,” manager Terry Collins said. “He should get over 200 if he goes out there 30-something times. If he does that, he would have a heck of a year. When you’re getting those kinds of innings, you’re keeping your team in games.”
Hopefully, that thinking won’t change and the Mets will not put the shackles on Wheeler, who won’t learn how to really pitch at this level unless he does so.
Pitchers today wear down when they don’t accumulate innings. If a pitcher doesn’t build up his arm, he won’t have anything left in the tank when he needs it. There are times when a pitcher has to learn to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings, when he’s running on fumes, when he just has to reach down.
Wheeler had his rough moments last summer, such as when he went away from his fastball and was told to work more on his secondary pitches. When that approach was adjusted to where he could work more off his fastball, Wheeler pitched well.
Collins said he believes Wheeler’s demeanor and emotional make-up could allow him to make a jump similar to what Matt Harvey made last season before he became injured. Collins said Harvey learned how to make adjustments within a game and thinks Wheeler can do likewise.
“I’m hoping he takes the Matt Harvey step,” Collins said. “Wheeler now realizes he can adjust and make things happen. That he didn’t have to overthrow.”
“He’s still got that great arm if he needs it. His command of his secondary pitches got better. I think his confidence rose as the season went along. Again, I think the sky is the limit for what potential this guy has.”
Wheeler told ESPN Radio he plans on reporting to spring training around Feb. 5, which is ten days before the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers.
All signs are pointing to a breakthrough season for Wheeler, who turns 24 next May. It would be the shot in the arm the Mets truly need with their ace Harvey out for the season. There’s great expectations from Collins and Sandy Alderson for their young righthander in 2014. And all the people I’ve spoken to, both in the organization and out, believe Wheeler will exceed those expectations and shine in his first full season in the bigs.