After two years away from the mound due to injury and recovery, Wheeler has become the team’s most reliable pitcher.
Through the tumultuous first two months of the season, one highlight for the Mets has been Zack Wheeler. Not only has he returned to the rotation after a two-year absence, but a third of the way through the season, Wheeler has quickly become the most consistent and reliable pitcher on the staff.
Wheeler has turned in a quality start in five of his last six calls to the bump. In his last outing, Wheeler overcame a tough situation in the first inning and set sail for seven innings with only one run allowed against Texas — not bad considering the Rangers loaded the bases against Wheeler with no outs in the opening frame.
Beyond pure results, Wheeler has shown the efficiency that was lacking a bit in April. He seems to have turned a corner in being able to put batters away quicker. Over his first eight starts, Wheeler averaged 17.6 pitches per inning. In his last three starts, that number has dropped to 15.8.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise because Wheeler has done this before.
Once Wheeler started to have things figured out on the mound back in 2014, he posted a 2.80 ERA after July 1. That contrasted a 4.25 ERA from April through June. This season, Wheeler has continued to show signs that the rust from not pitching in two years has been fully knocked off.
The big question that looms in the background for the moment is what about Wheeler’s innings limit? It was set basically at 125 before the season, though GM Sandy Anderson said it wasn’t a hard number.
Wheeler is currently halfway to that mark. At this point, Wheeler is on pace to surpass the 125-inning plateau by early August. Of course, the decision on shutting down Wheeler would be made easier if the Mets are still stuck in the mud in the standings by that point.
If nothing else, in what has become a disappointing season to date, Wheeler being back in the saddle bodes well moving forward for a team that could be retooled a good bit by Opening Day 2018.