Mets: Does the coaching staff deserve some credit for Zack Wheeler’s season?
By Tim Boyle
Zack Wheeler has been excellent in 2018 for the New York Mets. Is it all him or do pitching gurus Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland deserve some of the credit?
If you paid attention to New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler this season, you may have noticed a much different man on the mound every fifth day. Wheeler has been a tremendous arm in the Mets rotation for a large chunk of the season. His ability to stay healthy has surely helped, but does credit need to go elsewhere, too?
Specifically, I’m referring to the coaching staff made up of alleged pitching gurus Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. Each joined the Mets with a hope that they could help turn the pitching staff around. It hasn’t worked out well with everyone, but Wheeler is a great example of what they may have done well.
We often blame coaches for a player’s struggles. They’re an easy scapegoat for sure.
When a player does succeed, I think they deserve some of the credit, too. In this case, however, do we give kudos to Callaway and Eiland?
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I think even if Wheeler doesn’t acknowledge it openly or feel they have influenced him positively, these two coaches are somewhat responsible. They’ve put trust in him. By allowing him to struggle early and roll late into games later on this year, they’ve helped to create a solid number two starter.
Obviously, a large percentage of the high-fives should bypass the coaches and go directly to Wheeler. The kid is the one who throws the baseball. Ultimately, his success and failure belong to him.
Wheeler’s turnaround this year is likely a combination of talent he always had and health. In his first two seasons, Wheeler was a pretty good pitcher. Tommy John Surgery stole his entire 2015 and 2016 campaigns. In 2017, he was working his way back into pitching regularly. If we give him that mulligan, he never was half-bad.
Wheeler didn’t start off this season as well as he’s finishing it. For a while, it looked like another year of his career would go in the trash can.
Instead of giving up easily, he worked through his problems. Wheeler is now an easy choice for the number two spot behind Jacob deGrom, shoving Noah Syndergaard aside at least for now.
A true test for Wheeler may come in a day when he doesn’t have Callaway or Eiland coaching him. Whether it’s because he leaves via trade or free agency or either coach departs, the day will come. Even then, I’m not sure we can correctly understand the type of impact made on him.
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Wheeler is what he is. No coach could have a large of enough impact at this stage without us knowing about it.