Morning Notes & Thoughts: On Wheeler, the Bullpen, & Valdespin


Here are today’s pertinent news and notes…

Zack Wheeler is just about ready…what happens now?:

Last night for Las Vegas, Zack Wheeler was tremendous over his 7.1 innings of work.  He gave up two runs (both earned), while throwing 99 pitches (61 strikes).  He allowed six hits, walked one, and struck out seven while lowering his ERA to 3.74.  I watched last night’s game, and Wheeler was in complete control.  His fastball was sizzling, and he was working in his secondary stuff beautifully.  Of the six hits he allowed, five were singles (the other was a homer).

Feb 23, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (65) throws in the third inning during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Over his last three starts, Wheeler has compiled the following line: 20 innings pitched, 14 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 19 strikeouts.

Sandy Alderson has always alluded to a possible “convergence of events” leading to Wheeler’s promotion, and we may be close to that convergence.  Wheeler dealt with both a blister and a mechanical flaw at the beginning of the season.  Since the blister has gone away and the flaw has been corrected, Wheeler has been fantastic.  At the major league level, the only reliable starter the Mets have at the moment is Matt Harvey.  Not only are the other four pitchers failing to keep the other team off the board, they’ve also been unable to work much past the fourth or fifth inning.

As noted above, Wheeler’s readiness and a dire need at the big league level seem to be converging.  Jonathon Niese, regardless of what he says, has been pitching hurt.  If he’s fine now, great.  If not, he should be placed on the disabled list until he is.  Shaun Marcum, who was on the disabled list for the first month of the season, has been a disaster.  If either of those pitchers are placed on the disabled list, it could pave the way for Wheeler.  If Marcum simply continues to pitch the way he has (serving up slop and failing to work past the fifth inning), he should be removed from the rotation.

Now, the “Super Two” cutoff is still a consideration (the date is now projected to be around June 4th).  If the Mets wait until then to promote Wheeler, he’d likely make four more starts in AAA.  So far, we’ve yet to hear any sources shoot down the possibility of Wheeler coming up in the next week or so.  We may yet hear someone shoot the idea down.  Either way, Wheeler’s debut is so close you can almost taste it.

Familia to the DL, Burke up, Francisco ailing:

As expected, the Mets have called up a bullpen arm (Greg Burke) to bolster the exhausted bullpen.  To make room for Burke on the roster, Jeurys Familia (who has been dealing with biceps tendinitis) has been placed on the disabled list.

Familia was just starting to come into his own a bit, so it’s unfortunate that he has to hit the DL.  Hopefully it’s a short term thing for him.  Burke, who broke camp with the team before being sent down to AAA, was quite bad during his brief stint earlier this season.  In 7.1 innings pitched, Burke had a 7.36 ERA and 1.77 WHIP.

Frank Francisco, who had been rehabbing, was unable to throw his scheduled bullpen session yesterday.  According to the beat writers, Francisco is now complaining of discomfort in his surgically repaired elbow and will be flown to New York to be examined by team doctors.  The Mets can forget about Francisco being activated any time soon.

The Valdespin saga:

The Jordany Valdespin bat flip that led to him being drilled yesterday has been the talk of twitter.  Now, it’s clear that Valdespin isn’t a favorite in the clubhouse – no one acknowledged him when he returned to the dugout after being hit.  Still, the “Valdespin is a cancer” narrative is getting a bit absurd.

First of all, Valdespin’s bat flip wasn’t that blatant.  I’ve seen much worse from players who are well respected.  Second, there are certain announcers who shouldn’t be acting all high and mighty regarding Valdespin’s antics (Ron Darling), considering they were a part of the ’86 Mets – a team that showboated its way to 108 wins.

Now, does Valdespin have some growing up to do?  Of course.  But to act as if he’s what’s wrong with the team and/or that his behavior is outlandish, is ridiculous.  You want to see outlandish on field behavior?  Go watch a clip of how the Dominican team acted during the World Baseball Classic.

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