With trade winds swirling, Zack Wheeler had another well pitched game this afternoon.
The right-hander has made tremendous strides the last 6-7 weeks or so to really set himself apart from the pack. Since June 1, Wheeler had a 3.44 ERA and 3.40 FIP, good for 42nd and 31st in the league (out of 116), respectively.
In today’s start, Wheeler pitched a scoreless first including a strikeout of Bryce Harper. He pitched a 1-2-3 second and worked around a two-out double in the third. After 1-2-3 fourth and fifth innings, Wheeler got himself into some trouble in the sixth.
However, Wheeler settled down and got Matt Adams to ground into a double play.
The Smyrna, Georgia native rebounded with a scoreless seventh inning and Mickey Callaway rewarded him with a eighth inning. In the eighth, Eaton and Soto singled to begin the inning.
Despite that, Callaway kept him in and Wheeler induced a ground ball to third base but Jose Reyes (who is not a third baseman) could not convert the double play.
Jerry Blevins was warm in the bullpen and Mickey Callaway went out to the mound poised to pull Wheeler but his pitching coach instincts kicked in.
He left Wheeler in to face Harper and he struck him out on a nasty splitter.
Unfortunately, Wheeler gave up a homer to the next batter, Matt Adams. Wheeler’s final line was: 7.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. This is the type of start where scouting the stat line is discouraged.
Wheeler looked really good and if not for the five-run lead, he likely would not have been facing Matt Adams or Bryce Harper. If he also had a competent major league player instead of a washed up player who should not be on a MLB roster, then his line might have looked better too.
For someone with stuff as good as Wheeler’s, he does not generate the strikeouts that one would expect. His K/9 is a little under 9 which is good but it does not mark very high among other starting pitchers despite Wheeler having a harder fastball than them.
That said, Wheeler is one of the best in baseball among generating soft contact.
Among pitchers 150 balls put into play against them (that would be 160), Wheeler has the seventh lowest exit velocity against him. More importantly, he allows the 11th lowest exit velocity among balls hit into the air.
His teammates, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom rank are tied for the fourth lowest. Today was no different as the average exit velocity against him was just 82.1 MPH, roughly 3 MPH lower than his season average.
Wheeler has been throwing significantly harder than he has in the past and he has been allowing a lot of weak contact.
The results have been showing and other teams are noticing. Wheeler has reportedly been drawing heavy interest and if the Mets plan on moving him, now would be the time.
JA Happ, Cole Hamels, and Nate Eovaldi are the best rental pitchers on the market and none of them are all that impressive. You also have to watch out for Hamels because in 2015 and 2016, he was a choke artist for the Rangers.
Wheeler understands the process saying “I’ve been through it before. I’ve been traded. I’ve been fake-traded. I’ve been through it all.” It certainly seems like his time with the Mets is winding down.
Hopefully, everything works out well for Zack and for the Mets.