Tacoma Rainiers Give Zack Wheeler A Rude Send-Off

By Michael Lecolant

Has Zack Wheeler pitched his last game for Las Vegas?  That remains the “Super” question of the day.  If he stays in Vegas and keeps on his current schedule, he is due to pitch on Wednesday, June 12th.  Otherwise, Zack’s next appearance could be delayed, as he’s flown to Flushing to pitch at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals, or by next weekend against the Chicago Cubs.

Feb 21, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (65) poses for a picture during photo day at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If Friday’s game was indeed Wheeler’s last start for the 51’s, the Tacoma Rainiers made it their business to give him a rude send-off.  It was a hit or miss kind of night for Zack.  Either the Rainiers hit him, or missed for strike three.  He threw 105 pitches, sixty-five for strikes, in facing twenty-three batters.  He had his ERA down to 3.86 before Friday’s game, but saw it rise again to a 4.14 mark, as  Zack Wheeler was heading for the showers after surrendering four earned runs in 4.2 innings of work.  This was only the third time in twelve starts this season Zack has failed to pitch five complete innings.  Otherwise, Wheeler walked one batter and struck out seven.  His seven strikeouts gives him sixty-six for the season in sixty-three total innings pitched.

Zack Wheeler opened the game by retiring the side in order.  Tacoma and Wheeler then traded blows in the second.  After striking out the first batter of the inning, left fielder Stefen Romero doubled off Wheeler, who then struck out the next batter he faced.  With two outs however, the Rainiers touched him up for two more singles and stole a base off him, in squeezing out a run.  The Rainiers smacked Wheeler around again in the fifth with four hits and drawing a walk for three more runs.  However, he got away with a no-decision, as the 51’s wound up thumping the Tacoma Rainiers by a 12-5 final score.  Josh Edgin earned the victory in relief.

Back in Flushing, the three man competition for two rotation spots continues.  Dillon Gee, Shaun Marcum, and Jeremy Hefner appear to have one more start left to prove their worth – not that they have pitched badly.  In his last two starts, Dillon Gee is 2-0, with 14.1 innings pitched.  He has allowed just two earned runs on thirteen hits, and only issued one walk, while striking out nineteen batters.  Shaun Marcum is 0-1 in his last two starts, with 13.2 innings pitched.  He allowed six earned runs on eleven hits, walked two batters and struck out sixteen – twelve came on May 26th.  Lastly, Jeremy Hefner is 1-0, with thirteen innings in his last two starts.  He surrendered four eaned runs on eleven hits, walked just one batter and struck out twelve.  Dillon Gee is winning this race by a full length, while I’d say Jeremy Hefner leads Shaun Marcum by a nose.  However, Marcum’s salary may prove problematic for Sandy Alderson with regards to removing him from the rotation.  Regardless, one of these pitchers will need to step aside in order to make room for Zack Wheeler, and I fear Jeremy Hefner will wind up drawing the short straw.  That would be unfortunate for him, and disturbing for me.  I do not see Shaun Marcum contributing to the Mets future, and so, feel his spot should be surrendered to some one else who might.

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