Mets Minor League Mailbag: When Will Zack Wheeler Debut?

Zack Wheeler has 40 strikeouts this season (in 36 IP), tied for second in the Pacific Coast League. However, he has also walked 17, tied for fourth-worst in the PCL.

This one comes from Jay via email:

When do you think Wheeler will get the major league call up and how large of an impact do you see him having on this season?

If Zack Wheeler continues to mix his pitches and keep hitters guessing, which made him so devastating last year, he will be with the Mets sooner rather than later. According to all accounts, he failed to mix up his pitches over his first few starts, becoming predictable and hittable, something he has reportedly improved on in his last few starts. There is no question about talent. This guy’s got it. He has the pure stuff to match up against most major league pitchers right now. It will be control of those deadly pitches that will determine the path of his career.

As for the immediate future, my best guess is Wheeler makes his debut in late June or early July, for a few reasons, the first being his MLB-readiness. After his struggles early on, it’s clear that Wheeler isn’t quite ready for the majors yet. The staff in Triple-A 9s still tinkering and perfecting his mechanics, which may have been a contributing factor to his control problems in early April. Once he gets those last few kinks out, he will be ready, but he isn’t ready yet.

The second and probably most significant reason long-term for the Mets, is the cost of bringing Wheeler up too early. You see, if he’s brought up any time before mid-June, he may be eligible for Super Two status. That means he gets an extra year of arbitration. That doesn’t mean the Mets keep him for another year, it just means that one of his pre-arb years in which the Mets would determine his salary would be eliminated and replaced with an etra year of arbitration. Why is that significant? Well, the cost adds up. If he is a success like the Mets hope he will be, his fourth (and last) arbitration year could be very costly. Overall, Super Two players cost their organizations an average of $12 million more than a non-Super Two player, according to Amazin’ Avenue. In an organization where value is very important, the Mets aren’t going to rush Wheeler, especially in a year where the playoffs are probably out of reach regardless of what the Mets do with him.

To answer the second part of your question, his impact could be significant. Once he comes up, he will certainly jump into the rotation full-time, so he will have a big impact whether he is a success or not. How good will he be? That, however, is the most important question and unfortunately, the only one that can’t be answered.

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About Connor O'Brien 337 Articles
Connor O'Brien is a fourth-year economics student at Rutgers University, a longtime writer here at MetsMerized Online, and an aspiring economist. He embraces sabermetrics but also highly values scouting. Follow him on Twitter at cojobrien.