After undergoing Tommy John surgery in early 2015 that kept him sidelined until Spring Training last season, New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler is finally healthy again.
Wheeler wants to make himself a reliable starter for the Mets and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post details Wheeler’s preparation for the 2018 season.
The 27-year old had this to say about how his offseason began and a prescribed drug he took:
“It needed two full months of rest. I got that, and then I’ve been taking these shots every day for the past six months,” he said. “The medicine is called Forteo and it is supposed to strengthen your bones, so hopefully, that helps.
“You do a shot in your stomach every day for six months. It’s not fun, but you got to do it. They give it to people with brittle bones, osteoporosis. My arm feels great. I’ve been on the mound six times now so if this helps me get to 30 starts, I’m all for it.’’
Despite a role that’s yet to be determined, Wheeler is trying hard to revive his once-promising career. With a six-man rotation already being talked about, it’s more than possible we’ll see Wheeler in a dual-role this season.
For a pitcher like Wheeler, whose career has taken a few unexpected turns due to injury and the setbacks that followed, consistency will be key in getting him back to where he was pre-injury.
The battle Wheeler has faced is an all too familiar path for a number of MLB pitchers who have had this now-common procedure done. A stable, designated job as either a full-time starter or full-time relief pitcher could do wonders for Wheeler’s confidence, and in turn, his productivity levels.
Wheeler Still Has Potential
We don’t need to go through Zack Wheeler’s rise to the major leagues as a much-hyped prospect. The New York Mets acquired Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade in 2011. The Mets arguably “won” that trade. Although Wheeler hasn’t developed into the No. one guy he was projected to, he’s done enough over his time in the majors to give the Mets the edge.
The right-hander’s overall contribution to the Mets over parts of four seasons gets the nod over the Giants’ rental of Beltran that didn’t end up in a World Series title (odd year, naturally) in my opinion.
Considering Beltran was going to be a free agent after the season and that the Mets still have a full two seasons of Wheeler as a cheap pitcher with an extremely high ceiling, there’s still time to solidify that position for the 27-year-old and the New York Mets.
If Wheeler can regain the form that made him the highly-touted prospect that he was, the Mets could have yet another young flame-thrower to add to their arsenal of talented hurlers.
Zack Wheeler: Reliever
By using Zack Wheeler as a full-time reliever, this would give the New York Mets a couple of promising options. Even if they’re only hypothetical options at this point, the Mets likely have already been contemplating these scenarios for months. By letting Wheeler build his confidence coming out of the bullpen, the Mets could go one of two directions once he’s found his stuff again.
They could, No. 1 build Wheeler’s confidence up to the point that he’s literally foaming at the mouth, ready to get back into the rotation or, No. 2 let Zack Wheeler figure out for himself that he could be an absolute beast as a reliever and decide to re-create himself as such.
Zack Wheeler undoubtedly still has the skills to succeed at whatever spot the Mets decide to use him in.
However, adding Wheeler to the Mets already impressively revamped bullpen could be a strong play in what could prove to be a very tight NL East race this season. If the Mets do end up needing a starter at some point, a healthy, effective, and confident Zack Wheeler would be a welcome reinforcement.
But while the aforementioned news that the pitcher had to take medication all winter is worrisome, how that will play over a full season is yet to be determined. It is conceivable that he may hit some bumps in the road if he is going out there every fifth day. If Wheeler is used as just a one or two inning guy, it could be beneficial to both him and the Mets.