EmailQ&A: What should we expect from Zack Wheeler’s second half?

eMail Mail Mailbag Icon 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.


Wheeler Pre Game


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.




31 comments
Francisco Cano
Francisco Cano

Wheeler has too many moving parts in his delivery to be consistent but he is very young and has not been doing this for very long time. you have to be patient. You  may not remember Niess when he started several years ago. It took several years for him to become the pitcher that he is today. Also understand our  situation or ownership situation. We can not change it. They do not have the cash to go all out and sign players. I don't like it but i have no control over it. The reason they signed Alderson is because he proposed this plan based on home grown talent, bargains and additional pieces form time to time like Colon and Granderson. To dismantle the pitching staff to get a bat does not make sense even if it is what we need. We have to be patient. We have tremendous talent coming down the pipe which we did not have 3 to 5 years ago. Conforto, Nimo, Herrera, Flores. Plawecki just to mention a few bats. Our time has not come yet. Pitching is very fragile and you never have enough. We have to continue to be patient......

Christopher Masiello
Christopher Masiello

I wish this guy would learn something from Bartolo Colon. If he could get more economical with his pitches, he would be a stud. Even when Colon gives up a bomb or two, he's still in the 6th or 7th inning of most games.

helloboy
helloboy

My biggest concern is TJ visiting Wheeler.  Guy is young and throws so many pitches.  It almost seems inevitable these days as it is.

Matt Sell
Matt Sell

Matt Harvey spoiled us in terms of what to expect from these young power arms. Give Wheeler some time. He has looked a lot better lately.

nym68
nym68

I think what we can expect is for him to settle in as Robin to Harvey's Batman. Every great staff has to have a guy who is comfortable being the other guy. Seaver had Koosman and Gooden had Darling. The Mets need to decide who this teams version of Matlack or Ojeda is. My guess is that's the role they see Neise filling perfectly. After that the deGrom's, Thor's, Montero's, etc become great trade chips

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Watching Wheeler pitch you can see he has a moving 95 plus fastball and a filthy curveball at times....stuff is there.. command improves  ..you can see a 15-9  3.00 ERA  210 inning 200 k guy.

metzsuc
metzsuc

GLAD BRIAN .D  IS NOT OUR G.M he just about pitched a full season, relax dude... 8-18 w-l    225 hits to go along with 86 walks in just 185 innings WITH 5.62 ERA these numbers are for greg maddux after his first 2 seasons in the bigs. I guess HE TURNED OUT OK.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

deGrom,Harvey,Wheeler,Syndergaard and ...Niese or Gee?...or Montero?....Hefner...Colon?...or .next year Matz?

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Speaking of pitchers whats up with Verlander ? a 4.88 ERA and 142 hits off him in 129 innings?

James
James

Harvey has literally spoiled all young pitchers for Met fans for the rest of our lives.  Apparently if you don't win 10 of your first 15 games out of the gate with a sub 2.5 ERA you are a "bust" in Met world.  Wheeler has not shown he is an Ace, I totally get that, it is very likely that he is not an Ace, that is the way with prospects.  But he certainly has a better chance than most pitchers at this stage to be an "Ace" pitcher and that is what we are watching.  


Pitchers take time to develop.  It is far from time to panic.


As for those saying deGrom is an exception, to me he is not an exception yet, so far to me he just hasn't hit his growing pains, he gets through the first half of next year still pitching like this and I will put him as an exception, till then he has come up hot and pitched well.  He will struggle and someone will tell us we should be worried about him too, and we can have this article for him too :)

Doubleday
Doubleday

Two words:  NOLAN RYAN.  The Mets weren't patient with Nolan, and thought he would never be consnstent so they packaged him off to the Angels for a broken down Jim Fregosi.  The rest is history.  I, myself, have ben critical of Wheeler at times, this season.  I keep reminding myself of Ryan, and what could have been.

Ted Krever
Ted Krever

I worry sometimes about our fans. We've all been beaten up so many times we don't see progress when it's happening in front of us. Wheeler now is a much better pitcher than he was at the beginning of the season. DeGrom and Harvey are exceptions. Young pitchers almost always take time. Go back and look at Smoltz and Glavine's numbers two years before they went to the postseason for the first time. 

rstpigeon
rstpigeon

He's more relaxed and he's been adjusting - it will happen. He's going to be a really good front end pitcher. I truly believe that.

William Bonilla
William Bonilla

I honestly like what Wheeler has shown so far in his short career...we were spoiled by Harvey

mets2014
mets2014

prediction: wheeler will be the best mets SP in the second half

hankincolo
hankincolo

@helloboy  Keith Olbermann has a theory. Lots of pitchers in the pre-TJ era threw hard. Those who came up with a "sore arm" rested it and came back but were no longer able to start. His point, it's not that more guys are tearing something, it's that in earlier decades, no one could or would diagnose, a tear, eligible for TJ. 


I blame the mentality that says, give us 6 innings, throw as hard as you can and then we'll go to the bullpen. When Seaver pitched, he completed games. Why? Because he navigated through the line-ups, zeroed in on the weak links, and saved something for later, when he had to bring his best fastball. I don't remember him having arm issues, but I do believe his weakness was a sciatic back issue.

hankincolo
hankincolo

@Matt Sell True, Harvey was the exception, Wheeler is the rule.

hankincolo
hankincolo

@nym68  deGrom has impressed me a lot. He gets into jams., but he's good enough to get out of them and he has shown the ability to dominate.

Not sure I want to put him in the "trade chips" category.

Christopher Masiello
Christopher Masiello

@metzsuc I think that if he gets more control he'll be very good. He just needs to stop wasting so many pitches on guys. 7, 8, & 9 hitters need to be smacked out of the way on very few pitches. Save your bullets for the heart of the order.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

@metzsuc  Yep and Glavine 9 - 21 w-l....his 1st 2 years

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

@Albert E Lewis  Verlander has Kate Upton. You still want to know ""Whats Up"? Just hope its not for more than 4 hours at a time. LOL Could explain a lot.

helloboy
helloboy

@Doubleday Nolan Ryan's BB rate though was always high until he was in his thirties when it dropped regularly.  In todays game with the way they limit pitches, he probably never would have had a chance as he may have pitched less than 6 innings a game on average today. He probably never would have been a HOF type guy and would have been a journeyman as a result of his inability to last longer and he would always be in trouble. 


The game has changed as the cliche goes.  Wheeler must learn to harness his control in order to give innings. With that said, his BB/9 rate is way better than what Ryan's was at the same age...and it is not even that close. 

nym68
nym68

@Ted Krever Exactly right! The vaunted Braves pitching staff went through the same maturing pains that most ballplayers go through. Even after they turned the page Smoltz still suffered through the psychological side of pitching so much so that the main thing we knew about him during the 91 World Series was that he was seeing a sports psychiatrist. This just goes to prove that it takes time for most pitchers to fully develop into whatever their comfortability level is. Harvey is an exception, not the rule

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

@Ted Krever  Even Greg Maddux wasn't great when he came up.. his 1st 2 years he was 8 wins 18 losses..so

Eddie_Dean
Eddie_Dean

@hankincolo @helloboy That's as good a theory as any. I think it has a lot to do with how much these guys are pitching in their amateur careers as well. The big prospects play baseball almost 12 months out of the year as kids/teenagers, and have HS/Travel coaches that just abuse their arms.

Christopher Masiello
Christopher Masiello

@helloboy @Doubleday Wheeler needs to read up on this sabremetrics garbage. Taking pitches, hunting strikes, and all. Then he should realize that strike one is just a gift that these clowns are handing over to him. Start pounding the strike zone - especially early in games and counts.

Christopher Masiello
Christopher Masiello

@Eddie_Dean @hankincolo @helloboy My friend's kid is a high school (starting college) pitcher. He pitched for his high school team, his travel team, and had pitching lessons. All at the same time. That's a lot of mileage on a young arm.