Zack Wheeler is starting to figure it out

Zack Wheeler said he had no feel for his curve ball Tuesday night against the Nationals, limiting him to only fastballs, yet he pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just one run.

“You can let the game get away and he didn’t,” Terry Collins later said. “That’s why I’m telling you, this kid is really starting to figure it out.”


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Wheeler faced 27 batters, allowed 11 base runners and tossed 109 pitches.

“It’s not fun,” he said, speaking about pitching without his ‘best stuff.’ “You’re mad at yourself and you’re trying to figure out what it is. I wouldn’t say it’s mentally draining, but it’s frustrating.”

Wheeler said he could tell in the bullpen, warming up before the game, that he didn’t have good command of his curve ball, slider or change up.

“I could tell it was going to be one of those days, but you have to get through it,” he added.

According to Wheeler, Dan Warthen watched video between innings and advised Wheeler on an adjustment that helped him get through the game.

“He said that I was rushing to the plate a little bit and my back leg was collapsing,” explained Wheeler. “He said to stay a little taller and stronger so I could finish through the pitches.”


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In his last seven starts, Wheeler is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA, having pitched at least six innings while allowing two or fewer runs in each outing, the longest Mets streak since 1999 (Daily News, Aug. 6).

“You see it in every phase,” said Terry Collins. “He’s not just throwing now, he knows what he wants to do. But the biggest thing is, I’ve seen a whole different competitor on the mound. All of the sudden he’s a different animal out there.  “You saw it tonight. He just kept fighting. And he’s carrying that plus-fastball deep into games now. Last year you’d see 96 the first couple of innings, then 92 and 93. Not anymore. You look up in the seventh inning and he’s at 95-96.”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Tom Seaver once told me, eventually, these were the games he enjoyed most, because it meant he had to work harder and use his mind as much as his body to get through the game. In time, he began seeing these sort of nights as a welcomed challenge.

Wheeler seemed to have no command of his off-speed pitches again, which is something that has been going on now for weeks. Nevertheless, again, he fought his way through, with help from Warthen and Travis d’Arnaud. He stayed in the game mentally, despite not having it physically. He didn’t give up, which is great to see. He also managed to command his innings, slow things down, get timely ground balls, all in the face of so many foul balls and a high pitch count. The final step for him will be trying to make this happen earlier in the count, earlier in the game, on nights like this… Here’s the thing, though, while I’m encouraged he’s fighting and doing well without his ‘best stuff,’ what happened to his ‘best stuff’? Where did it go?

By the way, the terms ‘best stuff,’ and, ‘good stuff,’ were used 14 times in post game conversations between reporters, Collins and Wheeler.




38 comments
nymetsrule
nymetsrule

"stuff" is the most overused and useless word in the history of life.

jamesny
jamesny

Starting to? Jeez Matt this guy's been rolling for seven or eight weeks now..

Kevin Connelly
Kevin Connelly

what is going to happen when Neise, Harvey, Wheeler, de Grom and the young pitchers in the bullpen all are due contract extensions in a 2-3 year radius? Ownership has zero chance of splashing out a few hundred million dollars in commitments to the core. Everyone always talks about homegrown talent and such but nobody ever mentions that they will be due what they deserve as well to keep them away from free agency.

nym68
nym68

There should be a penalty handed out every time someone on here says  "I guarantee" or "I predict" and ends up being wrong. I vote we slice their fingers off one at a time so they can no longer type the words "I guarantee" or "I predict"....But if they do get it right, we send them a Matt Cerrone signed text from Buster Olney. Who's in?

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

Hard for some of you to believe that one of us would feel this way, but I have been a bit disappointed with Wheeler this year.  However, last night I was greatly encouraged since he really ground it out against a good ballclub.  I think you have some great points in that post Matt.

jamets
jamets

Wheeler is doing exactly what you would expect from a guy who throws 97 with an 89 mph slider.  There's a reason he was such a highly rated prospect.   The people who were calling him a bust a month ago should be embarrassed.  Keep this in mind when you're throwing Syndergaard's name around in trade ideas.

herblehman
herblehman

I'm not concerned about the loss of his "best stuff"; quite the opposite. Wheeler is learning how to pitch. I'm very encouraged by what I've seen from him. Even earlier this season, this is a game that totally would have gotten away from him and the Mets. 

JasonMiles
JasonMiles

I keep on hearing from these writers about trading Wheeler. Excuse me are the f..king crazy?? yeah I'll trade him and another pitcher for Giancarlo Stanton. Thats it -

He's starting to look like an ace-Harvery,deGrom,Wheeler,Neise and a 5th starter. Famila and Meija in the pen with Bobby Parnel-The mets will be in every game-Don't screw it up now

nagel100
nagel100

Why the mets don't cut Young and promote Den Decker is beyond me.  Young can't hit lefties or righties.  Give den decker a shot at left for a month.  kid has a great glove and is hitting .330 in AAA.


he has been leading off and I'd simple give him the rest of the season to prove he belongs.  


maybe  he has it figured out.  maybe not.  Young is on borrowed time so why not make the move now.   if he can be that lead-off guy we need then we can use our excess pitching on a SS.  if not then go get a LF in the off- season.



nym68
nym68

Btw....Matt name drops again.... I can't wait to find out what happened that one time in the men's room at Shea where he ran into that one guy who looked important and asked Matt "Hey kid, hold this while I take a leak will ya?"

openmind6
openmind6

I guess Warthen is useful once in a while right kids?

yankeehater
yankeehater

If Wheeler gets to the point where he is able to command all of his pitches he'll probably be superior to both Harvey and Degrom. Funny how nobody has mentioned that he hit 99 on the gun last night.

Anthony Fiore
Anthony Fiore

Very important game tonight.  If Niese can get on track, we then go for a sweep with DeGrom tomorrow and move on to Philly with good momentum.  Then we hope the Braves can beat up on the Nats this weekend and make this a race.  

Jeff Robins
Jeff Robins

He really did keep his composure. After throwing 31 pitches in the 2nd, I never imagined he'd make it into the 7th. As a fan, it would be less excruciating if we could somehow know that's what's happening at the time. I was hurting for him.

hankypanky
hankypanky

In other words, Wheeler is becoming a pitcher, not a thrower. Good for him.

Michael Leiman
Michael Leiman

Very impressive fast ball. They had to be looking for it yet he gave up very few well hit balls. He's not losing velocity as the game goes along as he had. Wheeler is becoming something special.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

That was a phenomenal job by Warthen to point out an issue, mid game, and get his pitcher back on track.

All McCarver used to say when he did games was that there was never a mechanical change talked about in game.

metsfan8x
metsfan8x

Matt read what you typed. 

In his last seven starts, Wheeler is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA having pitched at least six innings while allowing two or fewer runs in each outing, the longest Mets streak since 1999.

I don't think you need to worry when he's doing that.  Obviously his stuff wasn't that bad in all of these starts.

Robert Hess
Robert Hess

Now if only TC could figure it all out.

Vincent Santiago
Vincent Santiago

@jamesny If he used a term such as "continued track of success" everyone on here would be smashing Matt to pieces about how its only four starts lets see how he finishes off the season.  No Met fan is ever happy. 

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

@jamets Calm down.  The jury still is out on Wheeler.  However, you have to be encouraged about the way he gutted through last night when he clearly didn't have his best stuff.

This is only his second season.  We truly won't know how good a pitcher Wheeler is for another year or so.

rstpigeon
rstpigeon

@JasonMiles You've Gee for the 5th slot, possibly Hefner, Montero and Syndergaard in AAA reserve for next year. Things are getting tight in the rotation, though. Gee, at 28, is the old man (yes, I'm overlooking Colon, because he's not really here, next year - at least in my mind). 


I think they can trade Gee this off season. Do I think they'll get a super slugger? No. But I think they can trade for and or sign a decent outfielder. I think SS is a weak position right now and every marginal player is overpriced on the market. I think they need to figure this out, in house. I'm leaning toward running Flores out there for the rest of this year to see what we really have.


I'd extend Murphy and try to trade him the minute Herrera, or someone else, looks ready. I'd miss the bat but I really think he has value as a hitter in the AL. I'd wager he could hit 30 HRs in the Bronx. 

jamets
jamets

@JasonMiles  Half the posters on this site wanted to trade Wheeler for Starlin Castro a month ago.  Now Wheeler gets hot and Castro hits .220 in July and all that talk stops.  Amazing.

openmind6
openmind6

@JasonMiles  That's the beast that comes from 24 Hour Sports News. We don't need sports shows 24 hours a day. It creates constant knee jerk reactions to things that happen to a player sometimes in a single day. Sometimes you just gotta leave things alone without the obsession to comment.

Alessandro Fustinoni
Alessandro Fustinoni

@nagel100  From what I heard last night on the pre-game and during the game, its just a matter of time! I predict CY will be cut within a week or so.

mrgee
mrgee

@nym68  I think it is awesome that he gets to live out the dream that, face it, we all have, in terms of getting to meet and speak with all of these Mets legends.  You want to call it name dropping, go ahead, but I love hearing about it, as a fellow fan.

nym68
nym68

@yankeehater Why would you say that? Based on what exactly? Just throw in...if Harvey's injury is worse than expected and he's forced to pitch left-handed...and deGrom's hair gets caught in the hedge clippers ala Bobby O's finger, well then Wheeler will probably be better then them.

See...meaningless

artie412
artie412

@yankeehater The difference is that Wheeler isn't trying to gun it to 95+ on almost EVERY pitch like Harvey did last year. . . this bodes well for Wheeler's arm.

artie412
artie412

@Robert Hess I'm not a huge TC fan, but it's so funny how Casey Stengel never had it "figured out" until he was hired by the Yankees. Then, magically, he became a genius. And it was also funny how, when this "genius" was managing the Mets, he became a clown. It's the tools you're given, I guess. ;)

nym68
nym68

@jamets @JasonMiles Thankfully someone pointed that out. A few weeks ago all the rage was Noah will be better than Wheeler so trade Wheeler for " one of the SS's on the Cubs" it was unbelievable stupidity on a daily, hourly, minutely, basis

nym68
nym68

@mrgee @nym68 if it were just Mets legends, and he prefaced it with something like "I know how lucky I am to be able to speak____", it's one thing. But he drops everybody's name that he speaks to. The other day he dropped Buster Olney. He's dropped Jayson Stark and more..much more. 

He continually tries too hard to be accepted by the established media and it shows. There's nothing wrong with saying "A well respected national baseball columnists said____" Instead it's "Buster only sent me a text"

Robert Hess
Robert Hess

@artie412 @Robert Hess They say a workman is only as good as his tools.  While it's true you could have a team of all stars but you are not assured of winning.  Still, Terry makes a lot of dumb moves as does SA.  A GM has to be creative and I don't always advocate going after big names with huge salaries.  And Sandy has made a few good moves.  But this stubborness of waiting so long to dump guys and Terry continually playing the older guys and not giving the kids a real chance to prove what they have is exasperating