Looks like more and more people are hitting the panic button on Zack Wheeler. What started out as a suggestion by SNY’s Jim Duquette on Sunday to send Wheeler back to the minors, has now grown to full-on panic mode in the Mets Twitterverse and Blogosphere.
One beat writer, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, tried to stem the tide and said, “The panic surrounding Wheeler right now is astounding. Seriously, relax. The dude has given up 142 hits in 149.2 IP. He’ll be fine.”
Responding to Diamond, MetsBlog’s Matt Cerrone wrote:
“I know Diamond is right. However, when I think about Wheeler’s struggles in the larger context, the one coming from the team about how the future is all about their “pitching prospects,” I totally freak out.”
Cerrone fears that the front office plan, built largely on the strength of rebuilding the farm and developing young power pitching, could all blow up and force us to start the rebuilding cycle all over again.
“I don’t want to be mislead, I don’t want to see yet another crop of prospects fizzle, despite towering hype, only to mean rebuilding again. It’s the worst-case scenario. Is it irrational? Yes. Is it short-sighted? Of course. Is it a real fear, which I don’t expect reporter to understand? Absolutely.”
I saw many of our own readers saying the same things during Sunday’s game thread, but I would urge all Met fans not to give up and to continue to trust this process. This isn’t a Sandy Alderson process. This is exactly what all the great franchises do and how many championship seasons have been forged.
This doesn’t look like a Generation K disappointment to me and feels more like the same approach Frank Cashen took in the early eighties when he built the 1986 championship team.
It was unfortunate that we lost Matt Harvey to Tommy John Surgery, but when he returns we’ll have so many incredible arms to choose from that our biggest challenge will be deciding on which five to put in the rotation.
A few of the excess arms will be dealt for that big bat this team sorely lacks, perhaps at first base or even shortstop.
Nobody can foretell how every piece of the puzzle will fit in, but there’s a growing sense that the hard part of any rebuild – amassing an array of top pitching – is already completed. With or without Wheeler.
The great thing about our depth is that it accounts for the fact that one out of every two top prospects fail. So instead of producing 4-5 top arms, you pump out 8-10 of them, and that’s exactly what the Mets are doing.
Hang in there.
“It’s been a bunch of bad starts in a row here,” Zack Wheeler told reporters after allowing five runs (three earned) in six innings in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Washington Nationals.
“I need to hurry up and turn it around and get back on the right track.”
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York points out that Wheeler has now allowed 17 runs (12 earned) in 20.1 innings over his past four starts. And that’s including tossing six scoreless innings at Miami on May 7.
“Obviously, guys are starting to figure me out a little bit and see what I have and stuff,” Wheeler said. “I was thinking after I came out I might be a little bit predictable right now — fastball in fastball counts and stuff like that. Maybe I’ll start thinking a little bit more, but not too much obviously — not trying to trick guys, but keeping them off-balance a little bit more.”
One thing that was pointed out by Ron Darling is Wheeler’s body language and how he looks defeated and not pitching with confidence.
This was brought up again during Sunday’s post game show on SNY where Jim Duquette even floated the possibility that Wheeler could get sent to the minors when Gee is activated from the DL unless he turns things around. Especially if Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom impress during their time in the rotation.
Rubin also reported that before each of Zack Wheeler’s last two starts, Mets manager Terry Collins implored the vibrantly talented young pitcher to prove his fortitude and show some evidence of growth.
In other words, take the next step in his development.
After his start against the Yankees, SNY’s Bobby Ojeda said he was frustrated by Wheeler’s inability to pound the zone after his team hands him a lead.
Anthony DiComo of Mets.com believes that Wheeler is taking a step in the opposite direction this season.
For Wheeler, who displayed marked improvement throughout his first 17 big league starts last season, this year has been a step in the opposite direction. Wheeler’s walk rate has spiked, his efficiency has taken a hit and his overall results — 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA — have reflected that.
Terry Collins says the problem is that Wheeler isn’t fooling anyone.
“After you get here, the one thing you’ve got to realize is that the scouting reports are out on you,” Collins said. “And so there’s some adjusting you have to make. They all know he’s got a good arm, and some teams, like this team, have seen him a couple times. Now you’ve really got to make good pitches.”
I caught some interesting comments about him on our game thread yesterday, and thought they were both worth sharing.
Wheeler has time. He’s still trying to figure it out. The stuff is there and it’s just a matter of his command. The expectations for him were through the roof with him being touted as the better talent over Harvey.
Then Harvey happened last season and lots of fans starting to either sour or set unrealistic expectations for Wheeler. Fans need to put things in perspective. There are only so many Harveys, Kershaws, etc. out there.
Wheeler is Wheeler – he might not ever get to an elite level but if he’s a top 3 or 4 pitcher on the staff, I’ll take it. He’s on a bad team with little expectations regardless of the BS with the 90 win goal. If there is a time for him to work through his issues at the big league level, it’s now.
It takes some guys more time….Randy Johnson basically averaged 6 walks a game basically until he was 28 years old. Darling was maddening his first couple of years. Wheeler will figure it out…his stuff is too good to give up on him yet.
I actually agree with both members of the MMO community on this. One cannot ignore how young Wheeler still is and how many great pitching prospects don’t truly emerge until they get about 40-50 starts under their belt. After Sunday’s start, Wheeler is at 26.
So what are your thoughts on Wheeler?