Wheeler Skipped His Bullpen On Thursday, Working To Prevent Tipping His Pitches

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Zack Wheeler did not throw his bullpen session on Thursday and instead spent the day working with Dan Warthen on altering his delivery so as not to tip his pitches as he was during his start against the White Sox.

Regarding the changes they are looking to make, Warthen told ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin:

“Open up his glove, keep it at the waist — kind of what we’ve done with [Jeremy] Hefner, kind of what [Adam] Wainwright does,” the pitching coach said. “Basically you open the glove, put your hand in there, instead of putting the ball in the glove. Then you can go ahead and rectify the situation pretty easily.”

Apparently, Wheeler was unaware that he had been tipping his pitches until during the game when the team tried to address it on the fly.

“I don’t think it was that big of a deal,” Wheeler said. “We’re going to change it up a little bit and try some new things.”

Wheeler is expected to throw his bullpen session today at Citi Field and will make his Mets home debut on Sunday when he will oppose Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals.

“Obviously it’s the home park back in New York,” Wheeler said. “But it’s just going to be another game.”

Original Post 6/27

The Associated Press reported on what Terry Collins had to say before Wednesday’s game to reporters regarding Zack Wheeler tipping his pitches:

New York Mets manager Terry Collins said top prospect Zack Wheeler is tipping his breaking pitches. Collins said in his pregame media session Wednesday the Mets noticed the flaw in Wheeler’s motion during his second big league start a night earlier. Wheeler allowed four runs in 5 1-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox.

“We saw it. We tried to address it during the game a little bit,” Collins said.

The 23-year-old right-hander is scheduled to start again Sunday, and Collins says pitching coach Dan Warthen will work with Wheeler during a bullpen session Thursday.

“Guys look for it all the time. It starts with the glove,” said Collins. “Moving the glove there’s different things to look for and then all of sudden you start to look when he speeds up, when he slows down, what the pitches are. You start to get a read on it.”

“This is going to get out as a scouting report, but he’s been tipping his off-speed stuff more than his fastball,” Collins said. “We’ve got to fix it. We’ll fix it tomorrow.”

Collins said he’s talking publicly about it because the problem was so obvious he received about 10 text messages and emails alerting him to the issue. Collins said Wheeler was also tipping his pitches in his debut, when he tossed six shutout innings.

It seems like every couple weeks or so, a new mechanical issue surfaces with Zack Wheeler. I wouldn’t mind this as much if I trusted Dan Warthen at all. Wheeler’s young and has some kinks to work out in his game — but the ace-like fastball and breaking pitches are as good as advertised. Wheeler noticeably threw more breaking balls in his start against the White Sox than in Atlanta, which worked to his disadvantage in many ways. If Warthen can teach him anything, it’s “location, location, location…” and of course, the age-old adage about not tipping your pitches if you want to have a successful MLB career.

Watching Wheeler a couple nights ago led me to make a comparison to John Maine — remember him? Maine struggled with his pitch count in some games not only because of his inability to locate in tight spots, but he labored through innings with a high rate of foul balls. Similarly to Wheeler, Maine also had a fastball with great life up in the strike zone and an easy pitching motion.

The weirdest thing about my comparison? John Maine also had a stint of tipping his pitches at one point. Go figure…