During the final days before pitchers and catchers report, the Mets and RHP Zack Wheeler went to salary arbitration, in which Wheeler was victorious.
Wheeler had asked the Mets for a raise that would more than double his salary to $1.9 million. On the other hand, the Mets wanted to pay $1.5 million.
Wheeler was the only Mets player to go to arbitration this offseason. The Mets have settled with almost a dozen other arbitration eligible players such as Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard.
This is a huge step for Wheeler, who had a fairly disappointing 2017 season that was plagued with injury as well as bad luck. His last start of the 2017 season was on July 22 before eventually being shut down.
Before being shut down, Wheeler had not been able to pitch well consistently. Over his final nine starts, he pitched to a 0-5 record and a 6.70 ERA. During that stretch, opposing batters held a .978 OPS.
For the season, Wheeler posted a 5.21 ERA and a 1.587 WHIP. One good thing that Wheeler had going for him was his 8.4 K/9 ratio. He notched 81 strikeouts over 86 innings. Over his final six starts, his K/9 was 9.7 and looks as though it could have gone up.
The Mets were also right about not wanting to give Wheeler a huge raise because of his injury history. In addition to missing a little less than half the 2017 season, Wheeler also missed the entirety of the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to Tommy John surgery.
His ability to stay healthy throughout parts of the 2018 season might even be a huge question mark as well.
The Mets do expect Wheeler to begin the season in the starting rotation, but only time will tell how healthy Wheeler really is and if he can get back on track.
Wheeler pitched to a 3.50 ERA over his first 49 starts between 2013 and 2014. Hopefully he can spend most of the season healthy and can repeat his numbers from his first few seasons. If that happens, his 2018 season will be a success and another step in the right direction for Wheeler.