Mets RHP Zack Wheeler doesn’t want to get stuck in the pen
By James Stumper Jr.
Zack Wheeler, the Mets’ oft-injured 26-year-old starter, has some thoughts on his potential role for this season.
Wheeler, coming off back-to-back injury-plagued campaigns, arrived at the Mets’ complex on Tuesday.
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Obviously, there is a long way to go to prove that he will be able to stay healthy for the whole season, but it’s great to see Wheeler taking part in any sort of action.
In addition to just his early workout, it seems as if Wheeler has been paying attention to offseason headlines regarding his role in 2017. According to the New York Post, Wheeler is not very fond of pitching out of the bullpen, which is an idea that has been floated throughout the winter.
"“I feel that guys that go to the bullpen get stuck in the bullpen, and I don’t want to do that,’’ Wheeler said. “Because either you are doing bad and you stay in the bullpen because you can’t be a starter, or you are doing really good and they can’t afford to move you out of the bullpen. So you are going to get stuck there, and that’s why I’m trying to let everybody know that I’m not a bullpen guy, I’m a starter.’’"
Clearly, Wheeler views himself as a starter. That has been his role his entire career, and it is where he is most comfortable. However, Wheeler’s last regular season appearance came back in 2014 – so it will be crucial that the Mets manage his usage carefully. The bullpen may be the best way to do that to begin.
Not surprisingly, Wheeler is not fond of innings limits, either. Here’s what he told The Post regarding that topic:
"“I hate innings limits, but I guess that is part of the game these days. You’ve got to do what they say. They’re the boss.’’"
At the end of the day, Wheeler is right. It is the Mets’ choice to determine where he will be in 2017, but he has certainly made his preference known.
It isn’t just his role he is concerned with, however. Wheeler hasn’t pitched in the bigs since September 2014, so in his absence he’s watched his teammates make a run to the World Series and another to the NL Wild Card Game. Needless to say, he is excited for an opportunity to get back on the mound and contribute.
According to an interview with SNY, he says he is getting ready to help his fellow pitchers “destroy teams.”
"“Ever since I came over here, I sort of knew what Sandy was building up. It’s been fun watching these guys from a distance, but I want to be a part of it. I want to get in there, get in there with these guys and sort of destroy teams. It’s going to be fun.”"
Wheeler is pumped up, and he should be. He is finally primed to be joining a rotation (or pitching staff, at the very least) that includes fellow young guns Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz.
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With pitchers and catchers officially reporting in less than a week, it’s clear that Zack Wheeler is eager to get to work. No matter what role he has in 2017, a healthy Wheeler would be a huge plus for the Mets.