Opinion: I like what I’m seeing from Zack Wheeler, even during his ‘bad starts’

miniMCavatarMatthew Cerrone: In his last six starts, dating back to June 30, Zack Wheeler is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA, including 34 strikeouts in 38 innings. In his most recent start, this past Wednesday, he threw 112 pitches, let nine men reach base, surrendered a home run, but limited the Phillies to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings of work.

He didn’t have his best day “pitching,” he had no feel for his sinker, he hardly used his change-up, no one was fooled by his curve ball, and he tossed way too pitches. But, he ‘battled,’ as they say. It was a struggle. However, it was an encouraging day, because his results were essentially the same as they were on days when he’s locked in and dominating. This is a good sign.

My big concern about him earlier in the year was that, in games like Wednesday, he had been making no adjustments and often got hammered. However, against the Phillies, he kept trying different things, all while trusting his position players, he got support from the offense and essentially did what he had to do.




17 comments
Manny Montes
Manny Montes

His control is the issue I have with his starts.

Jerry Colfer
Jerry Colfer

Have to agree with Matt on this one. I was lucky enough to be at the game with my son. All through the game we were commenting on Wheels lack of efficiency and then thought.."how great to be in the 6th inning of a game where our inefficient starter had given up one run on six hits".

He gave up the Rollins HR and Eveland was shakey, but Familia needed one pitch to get out of the seventh. This is my second Wheeler game and he is special.

Rob Steven
Rob Steven

I agree, Zack is impressive. Keep up the good work!

elcondor
elcondor

It's about Control. In his poorer outings too many pitches are a Ball out of hand. In his stronger outings the Balls are closer to the strike area and he will get some swings. When he is around the plate becomes difficult to hit. At times, his arm motion slows down on off speed pitches and could tip the batter off. As said previously, it's fun to watch him improve and work at his craft

Not4Nutten
Not4Nutten

Wheeler has what it takes to be a big time pitcher, hes slowly developing into a reliable 1-2 or 3, it all depends on him. Im impressed with his demeanor as well as his arm! He seems to be focused, unable to hear the crowd,only the

sound of the Catchers Mitt!

JeremyD
JeremyD

Limb?  Lets go out.

metstones
metstones

Hey Matt, as much as you like what  you are seeing in Wheller I think I can speak for the vast majority on this site and say we don't like what we are seeing in you.

BB_PitchingGuy
BB_PitchingGuy

No pitcher has ever maintained an 80% strand rate over a career in the history of baseball. Wheeler has done that in each of his last 6 starts, some better than others. "Battled" is usually a narrative created when a guy doesn't look good, but runs don't cross the plate. He's faced some awful offenses in 3 of his last 4 (PHI, SD, MIA). On the other hand, it's good that he's not walking batters otherwise the Philly start was not good. He gave up a season high 13 fly balls and 5 line drives. Consistency in BB's, K's, and GB's is more important for his future development than a fluky LOB%. 

Ed Quigley
Ed Quigley

Completely agree.  He won't keep up this level of success (it's better than Kershaw's full season numbers) but it is great to see him maturing as a pitcher.  

Michael Portanova
Michael Portanova

Fun to see Wheeler slowly progress and grow as a pitcher. Can't wait to see how he goes even further next year.

golsf
golsf

At this point in his career, Zack has an overpowering fastball.  He uses it to great effect when his control on secondary pitches is off.  He is still somewhat of a 'thrower,' though.  He'll need to improve his control, develop better breaking and offspeed pitches, and perhaps add a good ole' fashioned split-fingered fastball to the repertoire.


Remains to be seen if he can develop the baseball intellect required to become a top tier pitcher. 

rf04
rf04

Totally agree. I like the way he's been battling. His stuff is so good and hard to square up on that I just hope he finds his control to keep those pitch counts down. He's still young and developing and he's gonna be a good one.

dave42
dave42

You can go back further too - since May 24 against Arizona he has a 2.77 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 79 K in 78 innings over 13 starts.  One of those starts was the 2 inning debacle against Oakland.  In only 2 starts of the 13 has he walked more than 2 batters and only once did he walk more than three.  In his first 7 starts he had 3+ walks five times and 5+ walks twice.


Yes, he needs to go deeper - he has only the one start this year (CG shut-out) where he got out of the 7th.  But that will come.  Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom.  Playoffs 2015.

Jayson Love
Jayson Love

the last start against Philly was VERY encouraging.  That's still a decent lineup (albeit underachieving and aged).  In the past, he folds up the tent there in the first few innings, but he gutted it out. 

nym68
nym68

He needs to figure out how to pitch better early in the game. There's some sort of disconnect in the bullpen to mound transfer. Maybe it's his warm-up routine, maybe not. Whatever it is he needs to figure out how not to throw so many pitches in the first few innings. Once he's accomplished that he'll be everything, and probably more, that he's been advertised to be

hashburry
hashburry

Figure out how to get deeper into games.  As of now, there is still something missing from this guy. Not sure if it is pitching IQ or if he's just not as competitive as deGrom and Harvey.  Still has a ways to go.

mets1973
mets1973

@kingman76 You neglected to mention Matt Harvey! He certainly has the killer instinct.