Good – Wins
Zack Wheeler’s fantastic second half in 2018 helped balance out his year and give him some impressive numbers for the campaign. This year, one statistic I believe he could potentially lead the league in wins.
Wheeler managed to leave the ballpark victorious 12 times in 2018. It was a new personal best, topping the 11 victories he had in his most recent full-season way back in 2014. Considering he’ll have a shot to face the number three and four starters early in the year, it’s those early weeks when he could stockpile wins.
As the baseball season progresses, number one starters face each other fewer and fewer times because rotations get mixed up for a variety of reasons. Wheeler doesn’t have the strikeout abilities as others on his own team nor does he have any other obvious skill going for him. While he won’t have an innings limit, Wheeler probably won’t develop a reputation as a workhorse. Wins is a logical statistic to assume he could lead the league in.
Bad – Hit by pitches
Wheeler hit 9 batters last year. Although Cole Hamels finished atop the list with 19, a large part of his season took place in the American League. If we’re talking about only NL hit batsman, Wheeler is then much closer to the 12 batters hit by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley.
Control isn’t really an issue for Wheeler. In fact, I would say his somewhat high hit batsmen numbers are due to a fearlessness. Back in 2014, he hit 11 in 32 starts. We can assume he’ll hit about the same number of opponents in 2019 as long as he makes his appearances.
Hit batters is sometimes a fluky statistic. If not for this one, I would say Wheeler could potentially lead the league in balks given how unpredictable that number can be.