For his career, Zack Wheeler has made 35 starts. In those 35 starts, he’s posted a 3.75 ERA, and has struck out 8.17 batters per nine innings.
Compared to 2013, Wheeler’s strikeouts per nine in 2014 are up, his walks per nine are down, his velocity is up, his FIP is down, and his home runs per nine are down.
Additionally, Wheeler – who sometimes suffers when hitters sit on his fastball, has made an important adjustment in 2014. He’s throwing his fastball 63.1 percent of the time, down from 71.1 percent in 2013.
Over his last 10 starts, Wheeler has gone six innings or more on seven occasions, including his first big league shutout.
Still, for some reason, there are those who are down on Wheeler.
There are false narratives that suggest Wheeler might not have the “mentality” for New York (which are based on absolutely nothing), those who compare him to Mike Pelfrey (a comparison that makes no sense), and some who even argue that Wheeler is just now “proving” that he belongs in the majors.
Wheeler is a 24-year-old who has basically one full season in the majors under his belt. He has tremendous stuff, has improved in almost all areas from 2013 to 2014, carries himself well, and appears to be close to harnessing his natural ability. There’s also this:
— Michael Baron (@michaelgbaron) July 7, 2014
While many can see how good Wheeler has been, what his potential is, and how much value he has, others are willing to trade him – specifically in a deal for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.
On Sunday, John Harper of the Daily News wrote that the Mets should trade Wheeler and perhaps Jacob deGrom in exchange for Castro. This wasn’t an actual rumor, just an idea from Harper based on conversations with an executive who doesn’t work for the Mets or Cubs.
Castro, even with his defensive issues, questions about his maturity, and shockingly bad 2013 campaign, has lots of value and is someone the Mets should consider acquiring. However, there’s no reason for the Mets to consider dealing Wheeler for Castro – nor is there anything to suggest the Mets would ponder such a move.
What the Mets and lots of fans know, is that Zack Wheeler is a very good starting pitcher who has a chance to be one of the best in baseball. He isn’t currently what Matt Harvey was in 2013, nor should he have been expected to be.
The undervaluing and sometimes laughable criticism surrounding Wheeler isn’t surprising, but that doesn’t make it any less off base.
Wheeler remains, with good reason, one of the keys to the future of the Mets – regardless of the faint cries of a hysterical minority.