Rather than trade Zack Wheeler before the trade deadline, the New York Mets decided to keep him. It was the smart move to make.
The Mets didn’t pull the trigger on Wheeler despite numerous teams being interested. Wheeler will stay in Queens, which quite frankly, is the best move the team has made all year.
The Mets traded Carlos Beltran for rising prospect, Wheeler, back in 2011. It’s been hard to choose a winning side of that trade as Beltran only spent half the year with the San Francisco Giants and they missed playoffs. For the Mets, Wheeler had been on the DL numerous times and even needed Tommy John Surgery in 2015.
Coming into 2018, Wheeler started in the minors after the Amazins were not thrilled with what they saw in spring training. Wheeler was coming off yet another injury in 2017. But after a brief stint in Las Vegas, the Mets called him up to fill a void in the rotation.
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Since then, Wheeler has slowly turned into a dependable pitcher that the team can count on to go out and perform; well every fifth day. On the season he is only 5-6 through 20 starts with a 4.11 ERA. At first, the glance that does not sound impressive.
But when you look closely at the numbers it deserves to be pointed out that Wheeler has made 20 starts so far this year and has pitched 120.1 innings. Both are the second most in his career since he made 32 starts in 2014 and pitched 185.1 innings.
Wheeler had been on a roll going into the All-Star Break and has come out just as hot. In just 2 starts, he has only given up 2 runs in 13 innings pitched. It’s a small sample size, but it shows that Wheeler can be capable of great things when he is healthy.
Wheeler himself has credited his recent success to his health. Manager Mickey Callaway has also noticed his velocity having an uptick. Entering his last start his fastball in the month of July was averaging 96.9 mph. In the entire month of April, Wheeler’s fastball was only averaging 93.3 mph.
Many would argue that this is the best time for the Mets to look to swap Wheeler, but honestly, the return would not justify the move. Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees, Phillies, Braves, and Brewers all wanted Wheeler. But ideally, the Mets couldn’t ask for a top prospect or two for Wheeler.
Wheeler’s value is really tricky. You can try to sell the fact that he’s a pitcher who is finally healthy and reaching his potential. But teams can easily point to his injury track record and say not so fast, we will not be giving up our top guys for a number five starter.
The Mets were smart to keep Wheeler and benefit from his strides as a pitcher. Wheeler’s health and coaching from Dave Eiland have seemed to help the young starter uncover his potential. Plus if the other trades they have made is any indication of what they will be getting back for Wheeler then this is a no-brainer.
New York is currently paying Wheeler $1.9 million dollars for the 2018 season. He will enter his third year of arbitration which means he will see a pay increase. But let’s face it, paying Wheeler a little over $2 million and reaping the benefits is better than getting a mid-level prospect that may or may not pay off.
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The Mets need the rotation depth and pitchers that they can count on. They need Wheeler.