Zack Wheeler wants Opening Day start, but not likely to get it

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Mets RHP Zack Wheeler shouldn’t be the Opening Day starter, despite Wheeler saying early in camp that his goal is pitch game one.

“I thought what he said at the beginning of camp was great,” Terry Collins said. “With our situation right now, hell, he may be the Opening Day starter. I just think he’s applying himself well.”

wheeler bpCollins later said that Jon Niese is more likely to end up starting Opening Day, which he has said at other points in camp as well. Niese started Opening Day last year.

Wheeler is entering his first full season in the big leagues. He had a few dominant starts last year and a few duds. He’s got a tremendous amount of talent, but he still needs to work on his command, while reducing the number of base runners behind him.

So, I say, let him feel like third in line, let him keep working, improving, let any pressure he feels come from himself and not the responsibility associated with a specific role, and he’ll be fine.




28 comments
joebloe
joebloe

Collins would have Jose Fernandez in double A if he was managing the Marlins.

Brian Webster
Brian Webster

Niese got to start opening day last year and hopefully Harvey is starting every opening day after this one. Or in an even bigger dream scenario Syndergaard if he's somehow better or equal to Harvey. So why not let Wheeler start this Opening Day if he really wants it and he pitches well enough in spring to earn it, which he certainly did in his 1st start. If things go as planned, knock on wood, this might be Wheeler's best and only chance to start on Opening Day so I say let him have it as long as he's pitching well.

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

What has Niese done to justify an Opening Day start?  Let the guy who has the best Spring start.

mets1973
mets1973

I remember back in '84 when Gooden lit it up in Spring training. Davey slotted him as the 4th starter behind Torrez, Darling, Terrell. He started on the road against Houston pitched 5 strong innings for the win. Davey brought him along until by July he was the MAN.

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

Opening day starter is over rated. 1 of 162. Nice goal would be to start a playoff game this year.

georgie
georgie

Remember Mets fans; pitching gets you to the playoffs, hitting wins you the World Series. The team has no hitting......no world series.

metjetnet
metjetnet

Actually, ZW is one of the players I've been MOST impressed with so far, during this early part of camp. Since getting him from SF, I've thought of his demeanor as that of a young, spoiled, somewhat snotty kid, very full of himself in an egotistical way. This year, however, I've seen an entirely different guy. He appears to have turned a corner into becoming a serious man doing a serious job. Perhaps the uneven year he had after his call up helped temper some of his zeal; maybe it was just age. He was the clear star everywhere he's been, but the NL just yawned, which will take you down a few pegs. He succeeded; he failed. Just like everyone else, which is what he needed, I think. Now he seems ready to get down to work. I'm looking forward to his basically quiet demeanor slotting him in as Glavine, to Harvey's Maddox. Add Thor in later as an intense Smoltz type guy, and we may not be a lot of fun for the NL to face during the next five years or so...

mettle
mettle

Why can't Collins just let whoever earns it start opening day?  Wheeler is too young, hasn't paid his dues, so TC won't start him.

John Paul Cullinane
John Paul Cullinane

I just enjoy that all the posts and articles have been about Harvey and Syndergaard as Wheeler is flying under the radar and being left alone.  He is the best pitcher this team has.  Colon's career will be over come July...which is fine with me.  Syndergaard can come in at that time.  Keep Harvey out until 2015 because the Mets already decided on punting this year again.  There's no point to rush him back.  The fact that they won't be in contention keeps the pressure off Wheeler enough this year.  Whether he starts opening day or not doesn't matter, but the whole body of work this year does...

rkj473
rkj473

Terry loves hearing himself talk, but the Opening day starter should not be "set in stone" at this point. Let the guys go out there and compete. There is no defined ACE in this rotation without Harvey in it.

Starz31
Starz31

He shouldn't be the opening day starter? That seems arbitrary. If he out-pitches Colon and Niese in the Spring then why not reward him? If it's an equal race, then yes, there's no need for him to open...defer to the veterans in that case. But to just say he shouldn't be in the first week of March is premature and unreasonable. 

I hope he has a great March and earns the opening day start. Thankfully, Collins believes the same; he's going to start whoever demonstrates they deserve it. 

Starz31
Starz31

@metjetnet  What made you think he was a young spoiled snotty kid? That sounds like pure perception from you. He's always been a mild-mannered, low-key guy. Some people perceive that in a negative way. He's just not as outspoken and brash like Harvey.

What I like about him this year is that he's much more comfortable. Just like Harvey was last Spring after getting his first taste the previous year and hopefully like Thor next Spring after he gets his taste. 

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@metjetnet  We all perceive things differently, so I can't tell you you're wrong for thinking of Wheeler in that light.  He hasn't really rubbed me the wrong way since he got here, but maybe you've seen instances I haven't.

In any case, it's refreshing to see a Mets fan who is willing to keep an open mind and let a guy grow on them.  Sometimes us fans, especially NY fans, forget that young guys have no idea what they're doing when they hit the spotlight.  You're right - a guy like Wheeler has had his butt kissed his whole career and was essentially tabbed a savior when Beltran was moved.  I'm only speaking for myself as a 24 year old, but hell - if I was in his shoes it might have taken me a year to fully adjust myself to the lifestyle and get my focus and emotions back to where they needed to be.

And who are we kidding - we'd all love to see these 3 kids become HOFs like the Braves' trio, but thats about all I want them to have in common.  I want them to each create their own legacy as individual players, which will in turn (hopefully) create the image of this 3 headed monster we all pray for.

Good post though.

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@mettle  Yeah but that's generally how it's always worked.  I mean, there's probably been a few cases over the years in which a manager followed the philosophy you suggested, but usually it's the veteran guy or the more tenured guy who gets the nod.

What would you do as the Tigers' manager?  Verlander: former Cy Young & MVP…Scherzer: the defending Cy Young…Sanchez: the defending ERA champ

I'm sure there's plenty of Tigers fans who'd defend your philosophy, plenty of fans who'd say give it to the defending champ, and plenty of fans who have seen Verlander dominate and think he deserves it for that.

In the end - I could care less.  It's one of the more overhyped and overanalyzed parts of the season.  It's game 1 of 162.  It's something we talk about for maybe 3 weeks out of the year, and then it's completely irrelevant and forgotten. 

metjetnet
metjetnet

@mettle TC isn't a "my guys" type of mgr. It's up to the players. I have a hunch whoever pitches the strongest, the most consistently, will end up being the OD starter. TC's more of an earned competition guy... Will it be Wheeler? Maybe, I doubt it at this point. But if anyone proves lights out all spring, I wouldn't be surprised at TC rewarding him for that, no matter WHO it is...

Starz31
Starz31

@John Paul Cullinane  The team has a strong pitching staff so there's no reason to assume the team wont be contention at all. And this punting term is fabricated by the fans. It's BS. Just because the team didn't spend all the money they have they are supposedly punting the season? That's garbage. I want the team to sign players that fit this team. Overpaying average players doesn't do anything. 

Robby Johnson
Robby Johnson

@John Paul Cullinane  I don't necessarily agree with every part of this, but I'll say this:  Being able to argue about which of the 2 or 3 young arms you have is an awesome problem to have.


But like Cerrone wrote yesterday, there's no such thing as a pitching prospect - and couple that with uncertainty over Harvey.  Even so, I'd rather have this potential 3 headed monster than not.

metsjetsdu
metsjetsdu

@John Paul Cullinane  Pretty huge cliff for Colon to fall off.... Led the AL in ERA in 2013 to sitting on a couch July 2014 because the Mets signed him. Wow.  Everything else seems pretty good. 

Starz31
Starz31

@rkj473  and thankfully it is not set in stone. Collins is open minded on this. 

owlnut
owlnut

@Robby Johnson @metjetnet  He doesn't need the added pressure. Let him get comfortable in being a winning starting pitcher. Niese deserves the start.

John Paul Cullinane
John Paul Cullinane

@Starz31 @John Paul Cullinane A few questions...

Would Drew make them better?  Yes.  

Would Cruz have made this team better?  Yes.

Is it your money or my money?  No.  

By not improving the team when you have the capability to do so is, indeed, punting 'til next year...again.  So, they will instead see empty seats, and lose money by not investing to the $100 million mark.  They would not have blocked Gavin C. or Nimmo/Puello's big league appearances as they're still too far away...so, there is NO EXCUSE being a New York market team.  This should not be allowed.  They force the Dodgers to sell, but not the Wilpons?  C'mon...


I've said it before and I'll say it again...last year, 3 of the 4 teams in the NLCS and ALCS were in the top 5 in salary...the team that wasn't?  The Cardinals sitting at $117 million.  The Mets are $35 MILLION BELOW THE LOWEST PAYROLL THAT WENT TO THE NLCS/ALCS.  So, although you shouldn't throw money around at garbage, you need to invest to win.

John Paul Cullinane
John Paul Cullinane

@metsjetsdu @John Paul Cullinane Not really...Let's put aside the fact that his numbers for the 7 years prior to this past year are EXTREMELY pedestrian and he won't have run support this year as he had with the A's as the A's had a full run higher than the mets in runs/game.

He just signed his last contract and is taking this money back to the Dominican...there's no incentive for him to play on a team in transition.

The guy will be 41 years old by July....

He's an ex PED user with a frame that is just asking to fall apart if he's off of them

You will see tons of early aches...pulled hammy, pulled groin, pulled bicep...

Then either a culmination of these little injuries will sideline him or there will be a big injury will occur due to him changing his menchanics because of the minor injuries...

...or a major injury

Either way, he won't work hard to get back...you won't see him again after July...


Starz31
Starz31

@John Paul Cullinane @metsjetsdu  That's pure speculation. What the team should hope for is that he pitches well and they might be able to trade him to a contender in July for a decent player. 

metsjetsdu
metsjetsdu

@John Paul Cullinane @metsjetsdu  Cool, can you also tell me what the lotto numbers are going to be in July? Not trying to be wise guy, you just seem like you know the future pretty well. It's not a totally crazy theory you have. I however feel like he is going to want that 10 mil next year too and isn't going to just fade away. Also, no matter what you think of the guy, I can guarantee you he has some competitiveness in him. The one thing I worry about him is getting hurt either hitting or running the bases. I think to say he is going to just fall off the earth is not realistic. I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one. I'm not saying he's going to lead the league again or make 30 starts, but I will say that he will throw innings for the Mets after July 2014 ( unless traded)