Monday, February 18, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Zack Wheeler Poised for Breakout Season

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


New York Mets: A Breakout Season By Zack Wheeler Will Surely Add To Front Office Troubles.

Acquired by the Mets in exchange for Carlos Beltran midway through the 2012 season, Zack Wheeler is one of the longest tenured players on the team.  However, only now does he finally appear physically able, and thus poised to validate being selected sixth overall by the Giants in the 2009 draft, but more importantly establishing himself as a top tier National League pitcher while still in a Mets uniform.

In the meantime, Wheeler's report card is incomplete.  After making 17 starts in 2013 as a rookie, he followed up in 2014 with a career high 32 starts.  He would then unfortunately miss the entirety of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, before returning in 2017 to make 17 starts.

Zack now faces a career defining, if not career altering season ahead.  With free agency looming it appears as if everything is indeed riding on this upcoming season's performance.

Last year, Zack Wheeler pitched 182.1 innings through 29 starts:
  • 12-7 record
  • 3.31 ERA and 1.124 WHiP
  • 3.25 FIP
  • 7.4 H/9 average
  • 2.7 W/9 average
  • * all career bests

However, it's Wheeler's performance over the second half of last season which best suggests he's truly onto something big.  According to Fangraphs, Zack's velocity in 2018 was back up to 2014 levels (pre-Tommy John surgery).

2018 FIRST HALF (April-June)
  • 88.2 innings through 15 starts
  • 2-6 record
  • 4.48 ERA and 1.315 WHiP
  • 84 hits; 8.5 H/9 average
  • 32 walks; 3.2 W/9 average
  • 86 strikeouts; 8.7 K/0 average

2018 SECOND HALF (July-Sept)
  • 93.2 innings through 14 starts
  • 10-1 record
  • 2.22 ERA and 0.933 WHiP
  • 64 hits; 6.1 H/9 average
  • 23 walks; 2.2 W/9 average
  • 93 strikeouts; 8.9 K/9

The second half numbers speak for themselves.  He additionally pitched seven innings or more ten times over his final 14 starts of the season, but only four times over his first 15 starts of the season.  Therefore all indications point to Wheeler being fully healthy, but more importantly thoroughly recovered.

If only things were that clear cut ...

Like Jacob deGrom, Wheeler's age entering free agency is potentially putting him at a slight disadvantage as teams no longer seem willing to commit long term to players beyond 32-years of age (or so).  Zack Wheeler turns 29-years old in May.  If he turns in the type of season I'm excitedly anticipating, the Mets will have yet another potential ace-caliber pitcher on their hands in search of representative dollar figures in which a three year offer may not suffice.

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