With the Super Two date fastly approaching in the minds of most baseball front office heads, it is only inevitable that one of the great young arms is coming up to the big leagues very shortly. The long awaited arrival of prospect Zack Wheeler seems to finally be over as he is set to make his debut start for the Mets at some point in the next week or so. Ever since the club traded outfielder Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants in the summer of 2011 for Wheeler, everyone has anticipated his arrival in the Big Apple. And now that Matt Harvey has blossomed into one of the best young starting pitchers in the game, many expect Wheeler to do the same, and help carry a pitching staff in need of more depth. However, there is something that both Wheeler and fans alike need to realize about the young arm. He is not the savior of this team.
Despite Zack Wheeler being the number eight prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com, the team will not drastically change overnight with Wheeler coming up to the big club. Although having a another 97 mph fastball in the Mets rotation would be huge as the team goes forward, he won’t be the only one that will be making this team in shambles a winner.
The Met offense has been lackluster and incredibly inconsistent all year long. Both David Wright and Daniel Murphy have been close to being the most stable all season, and have been some of the only true threats the team puts in the lineup day in and out. Lucas Duda does have a great .373 OBP this season, but his .229 average is definitely too low for a middle of the order guy who isn’t strictly hitting homers.
A previous Met team had a similar situation with a great pitching and a punch less lineup. This was the club of 1968.
In the year of the pitcher, as it is called, the Mets had a great young duo of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman at the top of the rotation. During that year, Seaver pitched an incredible 278 innings, fanning 205 batters, while also posting a 2.20 ERA. Koosman in his rookie season was just as good, logging 263.2 innings, striking out 178 batters, and compiling an outstanding 2.09 ERA. Together, the two were one of the best top of the rotation threats in the league, and won a combined 35 games in 1968.
The Mets had the young pitching and it seemed they were primed to be winners, right? Well not quite yet. The team barely missed out on losing 90 games, finishing 73-89. As a team, the Mets hit .228 and did not get on base very much either, putting together a lowly .281 OBP. It was not until the Mets acquired first baseman Donn Clendenon the next season at the trade deadline, that they had a true offensive threat who could consistently help the lineup.
While the current team needs more than one batter to help this lineup, the 1968 team does set a good example of how pitching cannot do it all. The Mets may end up having the best 1-2 pitchers in the league in Harvey and Wheeler, but they will not be the only ones that lead to a winning team. The club needs a solid outfield which can both hit and field consistently, as well as a true leadoff man which this team has been lacking. They also need to put together a solid bullpen, which the team has not truly had since the 2006 version. It will have to be a full team effort for the Mets, not just one or two pitchers that will turn this ship around.