Brian D, a reader of MetsBlog, asked: Zack Wheeler pitched as many games this season as he did the entire 2013 season. Overall, he hasn’t necessarily improved his record. He tosses way too many pitches an inning in my opinion…
I personally don’t think he’s going to be as promising as everyone seems to think.
Michael Baron, Contributor
I’m willing to be patient with Wheeler, Brian. I also don’t worry about a pitcher’s record when he is subject to pitch limits, depends on run support, and a bullpen to not blow leads for him. I am more concerned about other statistics and what the eyes and ears are telling me about progress…
His raw stuff is better than most, and he’s actually performing about as well as Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw did after a similar number of starts in their careers. That alone makes me a believer in this kid.
There’s no question Wheeler has had his ups and downs early in his career. He has always struggled to execute consistent mechanics and release point, and in turn he struggles with his overall command. He also often struggles to put hitters away, which helps contribute to his high pitch counts, pitches under duress, and shorter outings. But, this is part of the growing process for most young pitchers, Brian – either it will all click for him one day, or it won’t, but it usually takes more than 36 starts for a starting pitcher to put it all together.
I do think there have been several areas in which Zack has improved upon this season. For instance, his strikeout, walk and home run rates have all improved, and he’s also maintaining his velocity from start to finish in his outings, something which was a concern heading into the season. Anyone in the organization I’ve talked to about Wheeler generally agree he’s getting better. So, it sounds like they’re planning to stick with and trust the commitment they’ve made to him and that’s probably the right call at this time.
Wheeler is one of nine candidates in MLB who could demonstrate significant second-half improvement, according to Baseball Prospectus.
He has walked more than two batters just twice in past 11 starts and he entered the All-Star break with a string of three consecutive starts in which he pitched six or more innings and surrendered just a single run >> Read more at Baseball Prospectus.