Zack Wheeler was drafted in 2009 by the San Francisco Giants and acquired in a midseason trade for Carlos Beltran two years later. He debuted in 2013, but it wasn’t until last year where we got a glimpse of the true Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler, 28, was one of the first moves made by general manager Sandy Alderson after he took over prior to the 2011 season. The right-hander was supposed to be the future, and the start of a new era for the Mets. It didn’t look like his stardom would ever come into form — until his fourth MLB season.
The Georgia native finished the year with a 12-7 record, 3.31 ERA, 3.25 FIP and a 4.2 bWAR, which was topped off with a splendid second half.
Now, Wheeler enters his contract year, and if he replicates his 2018 season, he’ll look to cash in big time.
Is the thought of that on his mind?
“You know it’s coming up and you want to have a good year, but at the same time, it’s about what’s now,” Wheeler said Friday in Port St. Lucie, according to Tim Healey of Newsday. “I’m here with the Mets and this is where I want to win. That’s what’s happening right now.”
Would he like to stay in New York if a contract extension arose?
“I’m here right now,” he said. “That’s all I’m worried about. All that stuff will figure itself out and I’ll worry about that later.”
Wheeler’s second-half last year saw him go 9-1 with a dominant 1.68 ERA in 11 starts. In 10 of his last 12 starts, the former first round pick went at least seven innings.
“Seven innings was a big step for me last year,” he said. “I was mad when I only got six. You’re always trying to get better, so this year, maybe some complete games. You’re always trying to get a no-hitter or whatever it may be; maybe I can get one of those this year. It’s wishful thinking, but this is what you want to strive for. You always want to strive for the best and push yourself.”
So what’s the outlook for 2019?
“It’s a new regime, a new atmosphere,” he said of new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. “You’re always excited when there is a good atmosphere around, and that is definitely what is happening this year. Nothing against the people in the past. Everybody is confident. Brodie made a lot of moves, and I think we got a lot of quality players to help us out and win a lot of games this year.”