Zack Wheeler had an uncharacteristically poor start, or inning, on Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, squandering a four-run lead in the in the fifth inning to let the New York Mets’ division foes back into the game.
While he leveled the ship and came away with the win, going seven innings with four strikeouts and three walks, Wheeler might have just seen his final action of the 2018 season.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway revealed that the 28-year-old might be shut down for the remainder of the year, which would only consist of one, possibly two more starts, because of workload concerns.
After starting the year in the minors after the team acquired Jason Vargas, injuries and the trading of Matt Harvey ensured that Wheeler didn’t stay with triple-A Las Vegas for long.
He’s pitched 182.1 innings on the season, the most since his second MLB season in 2014, one which ended in him undergoing Tommy John surgery that held him out for the following two seasons.
Returning in 2017, Wheeler struggled through 17 starts as he went 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA before he was shut down in July. A poor spring training prompted the Mets to send him down to the minors to start the 2018 season where he didn’t suggest that he would ever be the quality starter that the team traded Carlos Beltran for in 2011. Through the first 14 starts of the season, Wheeler was 2-6 with a 4.85 ERA.
The pitching tutelage of Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland seemed to hit home after the All-Star break.
In his last 11 starts prior to Monday night, Wheeler was one of the best pitchers in the majors during the second half, behind possibly just his teammate Jacob deGrom. He went 9-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 75.2 innings.
Why would the Mets shut down Zack Wheeler?
Red flags began to emerge last week though when his velocity began to lag against the Miami Marlins before he complained of being fatigued. It’s understandable considering the number of innings he’s pitched after being used conservatively after such a major injury.
While his numbers remained consistent on Monday against the Phillies, the Mets still might want to take the safe route and ensure that Wheeler remains healthy through the offseason before trying to build on such a promising second half to the season.
Should everything be fine medically, the Mets suddenly have a very tantalizing trio of starters in deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Wheeler, who is poised to finish the year with a 12-7 record and 3.31 ERA.