The three players who made the cut were Clay Buchholz, Miles Mikolas, and Matt Kemp. But many could argue that Wheeler was just as, if not more, deserving than any of the bunch, especially after how poorly his 2017 campaign went.
Last year, he missed a good chunk of the season and when he did play, he didn’t perform too well. He finished with a 3-7 record with a 5.21 ERA, 81 strikeouts over 86 and ⅓ innings, and a WHIP over 1.50.
He started the 2018 season in a similar slump but he slowly turned things around and finished with the best season of his career. As late as June 1 his ERA was over 5.00, but he managed to bring it down to 3.31 by the end of the season.
He also finished with a 12-7 record, 179 strikeouts over 182 and ⅓ innings, and a 1.12 WHIP, his lowest by a lot. Wheeler had huge improvements in every category during his second season back from being sidelined for more than two years.
Some fans are angry that Buchholz was nominated over Wheeler. While Buchholz did have a great year with a 2.01 ERA, he only appeared in 16 games and pitched less than 100 innings.
Wheeler had a 16 game stretch from June until September where he pitched to a 2.11 ERA with 111 strikeouts and an opposing OPS of just .529. Wheeler’s best stretch was during July and August where he pitched to a 0.98 ERA with 50 strikeouts over 46 innings.
In fact, Wheeler’s second half was so good that there was a period of time where he was pitching better than Jacob deGrom. Both started six games in August, but Wheeler had a 1.13 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP while deGrom’s ERA and WHIP were 1.24 and 0.98 respectively.
If Miles Mikolas can get a nomination after a great season that followed three great seasons in Japan, then Wheeler should be able to get a nomination after a great season that followed a bad season and two seasons on the DL.
A month ago Mets fans had a lot to look forward to in Wheeler’s run at Comeback Player and deGrom’s run at Cy Young, but after Wheeler’s snub at this award, deGrom is all that’s left in terms of potential award winners.