Adding another starting pitcher to the mix could push Zack Wheeler out of the rotation.
A visibly annoyed Wheeler spoke to the media on Friday afternoon, and was asked about the reported signing of veteran Jason Vargas and how it will impact his preparation this spring.
Before SNY’s Steve Gelbs could even finish asking the 27-year-old righty if the addition of Vargas “alter[s] in any way the way [he looks] at this upcoming season,” Wheeler shook his head and simply replied no.
Wheeler remained quick and short with his answers as he was asked about his mindset towards a competition for rotation spots, saying he’s going to “just go out there” and “do what I normally do and just do my job.”
The Mets have also not talked to Wheeler about any specific role changes, according to the pitcher. That means they haven’t discussed possibly moving him to the bullpen yet, but even if they did, Wheeler noted he’s not worried about it right now.
I have to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed in Wheeler’s reaction here. His body language was really negative, and it’s like he’s already given up on the fact that he won’t be in the rotation this season.
I’m not sure what he could have expected at this juncture. The Mets are going to try to compete this season, and if you can’t beat out a guy like Jason Vargas for a job, I’m not really sure you belong on the mound at all.
Wheeler came back for the first time since Tommy John surgery in 2017, and struggled heavily throughout the season. He started 17 games for the Amazin’s and had a WHIP of over 1.5 with an ERA of 5.21 to show for it at the end of the season.
Again, he was coming off Tommy John surgery so it’s possible it can take Wheeler a little more time to be effective, but when you combine his lack of success with the fact that he’s also been injury prone, it’s no wonder why the Mets aren’t 100% sure of what he can give.
If the bone strengthening pills he’s been taking do indeed help him stay out on the mound longer, I think Wheeler’s eventual spot will be in the bullpen. He can still throw hard, so why not give that a shot? We’ll see what camp ends up yielding.