It’s been a struggle for Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler to live up to the promise he showed when he was a prospect.
The 27-year-old missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery and returned this past season, starting in 17 games. However, the results weren’t great, as he logged a 3-7 record with a 5.21 ERA, 5.03 FIP, 1.587 WHIP and an 8.4 K/9.
Wheeler’s fastball averaged 94.6 MPH in 2017 and his slider averaged 87.9 MPH. He also has a curveball and a changeup in his repertoire.
SNY’s Nelson Figueroa believes that Wheeler could thrive in a bullpen role despite his struggles as a starter.
“I’d love to see him as a reliever,” Figueroa said. “I think if he can just focus on being a two-pitch pitcher in that bullpen, that 98 mile per hour fastball will play up and that slider/curveball combination can be deadly.”
The Mets have already added Anthony Swarzak into the fold, but with reportedly only $10 million left to spend the remainder of the winter, additional bullpen reinforcements don’t appear to be on the way.
Though the Mets have a lot of starters coming off injury and their overall long term health status up in the air, it would make sense to move Wheeler to the bullpen.
Through his career, he has regularly labored through a lot of pitches and has failed to go deep into ballgames. Having him come on for an inning or two as a mid-to-back end reliever would play really well for the Mets.
Plus, that still leaves you with plenty of options for the rotation: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Also, I expect them to bring in some bargain bin guys, perhaps Tim Lincecum or Ubaldo Jimenez among others that could compete for a rotation spot.
At 27-years-old and with a season under his belt after Tommy John surgery, Wheeler will likely be in a better spot than he was a year ago. However, a move to the ‘pen for him should likely happen sooner than later to help him reach his maximum potential.
Out of all the Mets starters, do you agree or disagree that Wheeler should be the one moved to the bullpen?