If the last four games have taught us anything, it’s that the guys that pitch at the beginning of the game are good and the guys that pitch at the end of the game are not as good. Zack Wheeler turned in another good start for the Mets and despite holding the Phillies to one run over five innings, the bullpen (and/or Jose Reyes) blew the lead and Wheeler had to settle for a no decisino.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Wheeler has shown many promising signs and this game was certainly one of them. Despite pitching well, though, he wasn’t totally satisfied as he was taken out after the 5th inning.
“I think I need to be more efficient, get deeper into games especially with what our bullpen’s been through lately,” Wheeler told reporters after the game.
“I think that comes with sharpening up my off-speed, you know I’ve been saying that and waiting for it to sort of come around… I feel like one day I’ll have my slider but not the curve and one game I’ll have my curve but not the slider. So, I’m just waiting for everything to come around at once and I think that will allow me to be more efficient.”
Wheeler, who allowed a first inning solo home run to Odubel Herrera, threw 99 pitches in five innings. He allowed one earned run on four hits while walking two and striking out seven. While I agree with him that his breaking balls need to be more consistent, that is not the only thing between him and efficiency.
With such a strong fastball, which has good movement, Wheeler should be able to pound the bottom of the strike zone to focus on getting ground balls and making batters swing at his pitch. He can tend to get strikeout happy, which is certainly fun to watch, but I would rather watch him pitch into the eighth inning with five strikeouts than be taken out after the fifth inning with eight strikeouts.