Mets injury news: Wheeler throws for first time since TJS

By Danny Abriano

New York Mets right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler threw a baseball on Monday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 25.

Wheeler, who threw from between 60 and 70 feet on flat ground while rehabbing at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie, said after the session that he was pain-free and that he felt strong.

The ordinary rehab from Tommy John surgery is 12-to-16 months, but the belief is that Wheeler will not return to the Mets’ rotation until next June at the earliest, with July being the more reasonable expectation.

It was recently reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that the Mets discussed potentially dealing Wheeler to the Reds for outfielder Jay Bruce, but those talks have not advanced.

Wheeler, 25, posted a 3.54 ERA and 1.33 WHIP to go along with a 9.08 K/9 in 185.1 innings pitched (32 starts) in 2014 for the Mets during what was his first major league season.

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Before suffering his elbow ligament tear, Wheeler was on an upswing, still struggling at times with his command but improving his K/9 significantly from 2013 to 2014. Wheeler’s 2014 season reached a high point when he threw a three-hit shutout in Miami on June 19, showing what he can do when everything comes together.

While Wheeler — like basically every young pitcher — can still be maddeningly inconsistent, he possesses the kind of stuff (his fastball averaged 95 MPH in 2014 and his slider was a tremendous weapon) to be a top of the rotation starter.

If the Mets hold on to Wheeler, he’ll join a rotation during the middle of 2016 that should include Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz, becoming the fifth piece of a puzzle that would complete most Mets fans’ dream starting rotation.

If the Mets instead decide to deal Wheeler — either now or during the offseason — they’ll be selling a bit low, but it’s something the team should absolutely be considering if Wheeler can headline a deal for an impact offensive player who’s under control beyond 2015.