NY Mets: Failure to retain pitcher Zack Wheeler looming large
By Dalton Allison
The sliced up New York Mets starting rotation could really use Zack Wheeler right about now.
If you wondered what type of cheese the New York Mets front office likes, based off of the team’s starting rotation, an easy guess would be Swiss.
All cheese jokes aside, the Mets have found their rotation in tatters due to a combination of injuries, opt-outs, and free agent departures. The loud, obnoxious sound of airhorns passing through a vacant Citizens Bank on Sunday served as a cruel reminder of the days when consistent pitching was a staple of the Mets.
It is old news that Zack Wheeler departed the Mets as a free agent this past offseason. The fact that the Mets had the opportunity to match the offer he received from Philadelphia burned a little stronger Sunday when he pitched seven strong innings against his former team.
As the Mets toiled away in the infield behind an unspectacular Rick Porcello, the thought that Wheeler would have been the one consistent piece in the Mets rotation this season seared through the minds of Mets fans everywhere.
Although no one could predict the COVID-19 Pandemic or the injury bug that bit the Mets this season, it would have been reasonable to guess that the starting rotation would take a step backward this season.
Last season, Porcello’s ERA ballooned to a career-worst 5.52, while Michael Wacha the other new addition to the staff, tossed to a 4.76.
A now finally healthy Steven Matz was expected to provide quality starts this season, but has provided quite the opposite. Even after he looked good for a majority of his last start, Matz eventually faltered and allowed an eruption of Philly runs.
That begs the question: What is the price that the team was willing to pay for quality pitching? They were not prepared to pay Wheeler the $23.6 million, so what would make people think that they would be willing to spend money on Trevor Bauer, or someone else?
There is some optimism that a new owner would allow a longer leash for Brodie Van Wagenen. If Van Wagenen has learned anything so far through the course of the season though, it is that you can’t simply piece together a rotation with scrap money.
At this point in the season, with David Peterson the most consistent and (knock on wood) healthy starter on the rotation, the depth that Wheeler brought to the rotation has become sorely missed.
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Letting him walk, and not even taking the opportunity to match Philadelphia’s contract offer for Wheeler, could turn into a decision that haunts Van Wagenen’s GM tenure.