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It was a rough night for Zack Wheeler

Mets RHP Zack Wheeler needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning against the Yankees on Tuesday, during which he let up two-run home run to Brian McCann.

He had thrown 57 pitches by the end of the second inning, 81 after three innings. He ended up throwing 118 pitches to 24 batters before being pulled with one out in the fifth inning. He walked six batters, struck out two, gave up seven hits and was charged with five runs.

“He warmed up great in the bullpen, and then he went out there and I think he tried a little too hard,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said after the game (ESPN, May 14). “He couldn’t control his emotions.”

Wheeler walked five batters in six innings against the Marlins in his last start.

“You can’t do that up here,” manager Terry Collins said after Tuesday’s win against the Yankees. “You’ve got to trust your stuff.”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I’m starting to worry about Wheeler. His ball is just too wild, his mechanics are often out of sync, he doesn’t repeat his delivery and he ends up with too many runners on base for a place like Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t help that every good pitcher in baseball, who starts to struggle, seems to end up having Tommy John surgery, so now that has to be a concern, despite it being ruled by fear and zero evidence.

Lastly, and maybe more concerning than anything else, is all this talk from coaches about his emotions. He’s made almost 100 professional starts, he’s 23-years-old and been in professional baseball since 2010. He’s been a highly-touted prospect and lived with the New York media and fans for more than year. He knows the deal. Yet, he can’t control his emotions, they say, and I never see him make adjustments during the game. Again, he’s allowed to stumble, especially at his age. It’s a cat-and-mouse game and I’m hoping he’s just in a setback phase from which he’ll emerge even better. But, I’m worried nevertheless, probably because I know how much of this organization’s future is riding on the depth of their young pitching.




97 comments
Jerry Colfer
Jerry Colfer

He is a young guy who threw 6 innings of 2 hit ball against the Marlins. He is erratic, and walks too many (too many hitters counts), but he has shown the ability to come back from bad outings. I expect his performance to improve as we move into warmer weathers, but he has to start with first pitch strikes and use all his pitches, not just the fastball.

He will steadily improve.

Carlos Albert Jr
Carlos Albert Jr

i would not have a problem dealing him and d'arnaud for a controllable bat!

Darrell Smith
Darrell Smith

Back in the day , he would have been sent to the " pen " to work on his secondry pitches. He also has to be told that he is not Harvey , which he is trying to be. He needs to be himself.

He has the Stuff , but his head is all messed up. 

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

"He doesn't repeat his mechanics", "I've never seen him make adjustments during the game".

Armchair pitching coach analysis by people that aren't involved are tough to read.

The bottom line is he's a young pitcher who has struggled.  Ultimately, he'll be fine once he gets his control back and gets into a groove.  The stuff is way too good to be like this for long, but it IS entirely expected.

Mark Kohn
Mark Kohn

Putting too much pressure on Wheeler to be Harvey, Wheeler hasn't even had a full season under his belt (Debut 6/18/13).

Joseph Salamone
Joseph Salamone

You know with a couple more wins the Mets could be breathing down Atlantas neck

Joseph Salamone
Joseph Salamone

His mechanics were awful last night. He definitely need to sit down and watch the video of him pitching... I saw his right  shoulder open up too soon and his arm come through his motion too late.  And whats with the cupping of the ball.

Eddie McAniff
Eddie McAniff

What about our so called "pitching guru" can't he fix him??


Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

According to some of you, since Wheeler has always struggled with his control that apparently means there's "no cure" and he can never be fixed.

Funny how the same people seem to forget that Matt Harvey had control issues coming out of college, and he wasn't exactly polished in the minors either.

I hate comparing the two, but give it a rest with the control stuff.  Hell, Max Scherzer struggled with location early in his career too.  Yes, he needs to work on it.  But expecting the kid to enter his first full season of Major League ball and exhibit flawless control is foolish.  Comparing him to Mike Pelfrey already?  God some of you are stupid.

hlow24
hlow24

his control struggles make you concerned he tore his UCL?  He's had control issues for YEARS, this isn't anything new, he did this in the minors, last year, and this year again.  He simply hasn't developed into a top flight pitcher, he's a mid rotation guy with good stuff who can have a few good starts that blow everyone away, but mostly he will walk guys, give up hits, runs, etc, and be an average to maybe slightly above average league pitcher.  Hopefully he develops more from here on out, becasue he still is young and has that potential.  However, commenting on tommy john surgery and his UCL is just stupid.  Harvey never struggled, Fernandes never struggled, these guys just one day have pain in their arm, and they're done for the season.  A period of poor control is not a risk factor or red flag that a pitcher tore his UCL, sorry.  

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

The concern over Wheeler is justifiable - he needs to be better in all facets of his game.  

But at the same time, it shows you just how spoiled we were with Harvey.  I'm not making excuses for the kid by any means - Cerrone makes some good points, specifically the 100 professional starts - but these are the "growing pains" that come with most young pitchers.

All of that said, he's at least shown flashes of having dominant-type stuff.  The key is obviously being more consistent with his stuff, and more than anything - getting mentally tougher over the course of an entire start.  It's not like he lacks the physical talent, but you can see him rattle easily or doubt himself when even the slightest thing goes wrong.  Case and point: the 4th inning of last night's game when he walked the first two batters of the inning.  You could tell just by his body language alone that he started thinking too much.  Time to grow a set, Zach.  The best pitchers fight and claw even when they don't have their best stuff, he needs to learn that.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Hes fine once he gets his command he will be better..theirs no substitute for experience...the more he pitches the better he will get.

brrrandooo
brrrandooo

It's pretty simple Wheeler is a  thrower, he needs to learn how to become a pitcher.  I believe he can do just that, reminds me of parnell before he came into his own or at least started too

bklehmann
bklehmann

This fan base was completely spoiled by Matt Harvey.  It seems like expectations for any young hurler is to immediately develop into a top 10 pitcher within year of arriving.  


Seriously...he has great stuff...he needs to refine his mechanics....I can think of 25 other pitchers who came up similarly and began becoming dominant in year 3.....most recently and notably Max Scherzer.


Soo typical of NY fans to be completely impatient and unforgiving for growing up.

Eric Olesh
Eric Olesh

He is a #4 starter right now.  It means there are ups and downs.  If that is all he ends up being it would still be a success considering the failure rate of prospects.  Commanding that much velo and movement is not easy.

cbbruuno
cbbruuno

Wheeler actually reminds me a lot of Ron Darling when he came up. Great stuff but very wild. People forget how little control Darling had his first 2-4 years in the league.

hashburry
hashburry

He has had the same problems with control since A ball.  I just don't see any miracle cure for a guy that can't throw strikes.  And the biggest tell is that he either doesn't trust his stuff enough or is just too scared to throw inside to lefties.  He lives on the outside part of the plate, which would be fine if he could actually throw strikes out there.  He just doesn't seem to have the mental toughness to harness his supposed "electric stuff".  That's another thing that seems to be a bit overblown.  His breaking stuff is mickey mouse.  Maybe if he could command his fastball it would lead to better results with his slider and curve.

I have to keep going back to the obvious comparison.  He looks like Pelfrey 2.0, without the licking.

He should be the first guy they offer in a trade.  Let someone else get suckered into thinking they can fix him.  Is Peterson working for any other teams these days?

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

It seems clear to me that Wheeler was rushed up to the Majors. Despite his billing, Wheeler has never exhibited a great deal of command since his call up. He needs to go back to Vegas and work this out.

Father Dooley
Father Dooley

Think about it: if Wheeler doesn't work out, and d'Arnaud and Syndergaard don't work out, then trading Beltran and Dickey would have all been done in vain.

hankypanky
hankypanky

Congratulations. You've managed to block out the work Wharton has done with Niese, Gee, Harvey, Matsuzaka, Mejia et al to shape up one of the better rotations in baseball.

bklehmann
bklehmann

@Robby Johnson  Like I said in a prior post, the mets traded Nolan Ryan after a few seasons because he was too wild.  The year they traded him he was turning 25 and proceeded to strike out 329 batters. 


It takes these big arm guys a few years.  HELL...it took Dillon Gee and Jon NIese a few years and they dont have NEARLY the same stuff Wheeler does.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@bklehmann I'm not giving up on him, but I don't think that he's going to get better by throwing 2-0 changeups a foot outside the zone. Pitching poorly doesn't necessarily lead to pitching better. If he can't command his fastball at 23 with 500 professional inning under his belt, it's going to be an uphill climb to get him to the point that he can. His stuff is still more than good enough for him to be a good major league pitcher, but it's not clear that he'll be a consistent one.

brrrandooo
brrrandooo

@bklehmann  well said, but with that being said some of the points matt was making about controlling his emotions, etc can be a bit concerning

chiescuela
chiescuela

@cbbruuno Maybe. But Darling is a brilliant, thoughtful guy. I don't have any confidence that Wheeler will put it together like he did.

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@hashburry  You don't see any miracle cure for a guy that can't throw strikes?

You're telling me there's never been a pitcher who struggled with command in his first full season that couldn't turn it around?

hashburry
hashburry

@flmetsfan  He couldn't throw strikes at any level. How is going to AAA going to help?

Pete Brilvitch
Pete Brilvitch

@Father Dooley If we had signed Beltran and Dickey to contract extensions, instead oft trading them, would the Mets be in better shape today? The answer is no. Don't forget, Buck was part of The Dickey trade and was traded for Herrera and Black. Even if all 5 didn't pan out, we're still not worse off - at least in my opinion.

hankincolo
hankincolo

@Father Dooley ...and are you afraid the sun will not come out tomorrow? Or, ever again?
Sandy made the right moves by trading Beltran and Dickey, ...and I really loved watching Dickey on the mound, but those were moves you had to make.

specialk
specialk

@Father Dooley  Thanks for that captain obvious.  If the three top prospects they got don't work out then it was a bad trade, well you can say that about every trade.  The Redskins traded for the #2 pick in the draft two years ago to take RGIII and the Rams got a huge haul fo something like 8 picks.  If all of them don't work out its a bad trade. Well yeah 

hashburry
hashburry

@Father Dooley  Syndergaard is the real hope in all of this.  I wrote it before, the Giants weren't all that torn up over giving up Wheeler.  They only think they didn't get a good return because Beltran got hurt and they didn't make the playoffs.  Anyone that thinks the Giants regret the trade don't know the Giants.  I have to listen to Giants stuff every day out here and they haven't given the guy a second thought.  It isn't like the Kazmir trade.

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

Even more interesting is the fact that Alderson's tenure as Mets GM would be considered as a failure and a colossal waste of time.

William Truitt
William Truitt

@Father Dooley  Does not make a difference either way. Both Beltran and Dickey had expiring contracts at the end of each respective season they were traded. So basically, whatever we get out of Wheeler, Syndergaard and d'Arnaud is a bonus.

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@Will Keesee @brrrandooo  Exactly.  He can't get away with poor location anymore, and so you can see him get way too tentative around the strike zone at times.

The more innings and game-reps he gets, the more he'll learn.  It might be tough to watch at times, but that's how it goes with young pitchers . . . not named Harvey.

bklehmann
bklehmann

@brrrandooo @bklehmann  I just think he's young and needs to mature. 


Is it a guarantee he becomes a star with an unshakeable demeanor?  No, absolutely not, but lets give him a chance.  He's essentially still in his rookie season.  Can we give the guy a year or two before criticizing his inconsistency?  


There was another guy the Mets traded in December 1971 that had a big arm, but was very wild walking 116 in 152IP.  In 1972 he struck out 329 batters and won 19 games for California.   He was 25 years old at the time.


Its SOOO COMMON throughout the history of the game!!    

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@brrrandooo @bklehmann  It can be concerning if the issues persist for the next couple of seasons.

But for right now - in his first full season - it's understandable and even somewhat expected.  Pitching in the Big Leagues ain't easy, he'll keep learning.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

@hashburry @flmetsfan In 2011 he had 4.1 bb/9 and cut it to 3.6 and 3.5 the next two years while always maintaining a k/9 rate of above 9 while having a career minor league era of 3.56.

You make it sound like he was this wild mess that couldn't even pitch well.  Far from true.

metsbb76
metsbb76

@hashburry @Victor Triguero He's actually given up 3 earned runs or less in 5 of his 8 starts. So he's been decent or good the majority of the time. A 23 year old pitcher has had a couple bad outings mixed in? No shock there. Some people are blowing this way out of proportion. Last season Wheeler had a 3.42 ERA in 17 starts, which was very impressive for a rookie. Amazing to me that 2 bad starts causes people to question him.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruuno I actually am a psychological authority. Unless you have degrees in education and psychology, certainly more so than you. My impression of Wheeler's intelligence or lack there of is based on observation. I'm not guessing at how he might sound when he's interviewed. I've seen it. Conclusions based on observation can certainly be valid. In order for you to know that my argument is fallacious, you would have to have some additional knowledge. So, for instance, if you know that Wheeler is really shy and that he comes off as dumb because of that and not because he actually is, then you can claim that my conclusion is fallacious. That is, based on a mistaken belief. However, without that additional knowledge, your argument that my conclusions are fallacious don't hold water. You have no idea if my belief that he's stupid is right or wrong. The best that you can do is to say that I don't have enough evidence to make that claim. But, if we look around at the available evidence, I think we can certainly make an educated guess. So, let's see doesn't pitch intelligently, he sounds like a moron when he speaks, he hit a teammate on purpose in an intrasquad game causing racial tension in the dugout. I don't have to be omniscient to know he's not a brilliant thoughtful guy. I can make that determination based on the available evidence. I feel confident in my conclusion. I'm not going to say that you're an idiot, but you clearly aren't as smart as you think you are. You're just a comment troll. If you're that smart, you should at least be better at it.

fatherflot
fatherflot

@chiescuela @fatherflot @cbbruuno  


You don't understand what an ad hominem argument is.  I did not attack you personally, but the logic of your argument, which was based on a presumption of knowledge that you do not possess (the quality of Wheeler's intelligence).  Thus you set yourself up as a psychological authority and pronounce upon Wheeler's intelligence based on impressions you received from watching interviews.  That is fallacious and ought to be pointed out.


My comparisons were not to suggest Wheeler would turn out like those Hall of Famers, but to demonstrate the limits of your reasoning.  Those are "limit case examples" designed to probe the quality of your argument's logic.


But you are clearly an idiot whose views should be discounted. Now THAT's an ad hominem argument.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruunoAlso, if you want evidence that he's a moron, he intentionally hit Aderlin Rodriguez in an intrasquad game. Take me from that to him being a bright thoughtful guy that you have confidence in.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruunoYour objection is overruled. You attempt to compare Wheeler to Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax are ridiculous and therefore, I find you in contempt. Actually, you have not put forward an opinion. All you've done is attempt to undermine a comment that I made, by arguing from fallacy. Your argument that I have not met Wheeler is a classic example of an ad hominem, as it is an attack on me and not the argument itself. So, really, while I at least made some attempt to add something to a conversation, whatever value it may have had, you have added nothing of value and furthermore have not even made an attempt at adding anything of value. Therefore, I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.

fatherflot
fatherflot

@chiescuela @fatherflot @cbbruuno  I object to your presumption of omniscience when it comes to the intelligence level of people you have never met.  We get it:  you think Wheeler's too dumb to think his way out of wildness.  You are welcome to that opinion, but it's just idle internet chatter with nothing to back it up but vague impressions.  That's OK, opinions like this online are cheap and appropriately meaningless.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruunoBy the way, there are a lot more guys that had great stuff and were wild but never got it together than guys that did. So you can keep throwing out names of all time greats, but they aren't good comps. The stuff and the mechanics aren't the same. The makeup isn't the same. Darling isn't a good comp. either. I'm not saying that Wheeler can't be good or get better, just that he hasn't shown anything that makes me think he's going to throw strikes more consistently from start to start. And comparing him to Darling or Ryan or Koufax or Johnson (which is really silly), isn't particularly useful. Again, if you want a guy with a similar body type, similar stuff and similar mechanics, your guy is AJ Burnett. And, if that's what Wheeler ends up being, that's not bad. He'll have a nice long career and do pretty well for himself, but he probably won't be consistent. Nothing wrong with that.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruunoNolan Ryan is a brilliant guy. So is Koufax. Ryan's wildness continued throughout his career. Wheeler's stuff isn't nearly as good as Ryan's. If Wheeler could thrown 98 on the black 60% of the time, he can walk 5 batters a game and still be effective.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruunoWhen did Dwight Gooden have the wildness issue? He didn't walk 4 plus batters a game until he was in his 30s after the drug problems. Clemens mechanics are completely different. And, he didn't have the 4 plus walks a game issue to correct either. By the way, both of those guys were flat out stars by 23. If you want a comp for Wheeler, the better guy is Burnett.

fatherflot
fatherflot

@chiescuela @fatherflot @cbbruuno  Did Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden, or Randy Johnson sound like phDs in interviews?  How about Dizzy Dean, Sachel Paige, etc. etc.


I think you are reaching man.

chiescuela
chiescuela

@fatherflot @chiescuela@cbbruunoNo. He doesn't have to be. But have you seen Wheeler pitch or be interviewed? He hasn't exactly shown himself to be a student of the game. He doesn't even usually have a rudimentary plan. That might change as he gets older, but I haven't seen any evidence that tells me that it's likely.

mkaufman1
mkaufman1

@metsbb76 @hashburry@Victor Triguero I don't think anyone is arguing that Wheeler hasn't had some good starts and shown flashes of brilliance.  I think everyones concern is the fact he hasn't shown the ability to string starts together and go deeper into ballgames (beyond the 6th inning).  His pitch counts are usually always elevated which means he doesn't always put guys away when he should.  Those are the things I'm concerned about.  

With that said, its only 25 starts in, so its merely a concern, not a panic.  Id like to see him put together 5 or 6 starts in a row where he goes 6 and 7 innings.  He got a few good ones in a row in last year, so I know its in him.