Recap: Zack Wheeler struggled with his command, again

Zack Wheeler LV 1 polaroidLast night in Fresno, Zack Wheeler allowed four runs — one earned — on eight hits, with three walks and six strikeouts, over 5 1/3 innings.

The 51s lost to Fresno by the score of 4-1.

Wheeler fell to 0-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 8 2/3 innings over two starts this season. He now has a WHIP of 1.96, is walking people at a rate of 6.2 per nine innings and is striking out 9.3 per nine.

Wheeler allowed three runs in the third inning, thanks in part to an error at third base by Brian Bixler.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Wheeler simply lacked fastball command, much like he did in his season debut against Sacramento last week. He didn’t throw many quality strikes — especially with two strikes — and it resulted in way too many base runners allowed. He did show better command of his breaking balls, and that helped him to avert major damage throughout his outing, but there’s clearly still some work to be done before he comes up.

I’ve said it before — considering Sandy Alderson said he is willing to disregard Travis d’Arnaud’s ‘Super Two’ status should a need arise, I have to believe the same applies to Wheeler. However, the caveat to that is Wheeler has to be ready. Yes, the Mets have a clear need in their rotation right now, but Wheeler has to harness consistent command with all of his pitches before he can be considered an option. Make no mistake — Wheeler isn’t so much a work-in-progress anymore. He is close, and what he has shown in his first two starts are not indicative of where he is in his development. Remember, Wheeler had limited exposure to Triple-A last season, and his spring was cut short due to an oblique strain he sustained in late February. I don’t necessarily believe Wheeler needs to be lights out in order to get the call, either – he simply needs to start throwing better quality strikes, become more efficient with two strikes, and work with a better rhythm and tempo while on the mound. When that happens, the results will take care of themselves, and it might be easier to target a date for Wheeler’s arrival to Flushing.