Last night Zack Wheeler struggled in his second career start. Wheeler lasted 5.1 innings and allowed four runs while walking four and hitting one batter on his way to earning a no decision in the Mets 5-4 loss.
This was not a horrible start, by all means, but some fans might be expecting Wheeler to put up 0’s each time he steps foot on the mound. Expectations need to be made realistic for the rookie. He is going to struggle at times, no doubt about it, he is also going to dominant at times, not much doubt about that either. What fans will have to coupe with is the inconsistencies that will come in his first season.
The bar was set high last season as Matt Harvey came up and quickly dominated his opponents. It may have given us all short term memory of our a normal pitchers development comes about. A pitchers great “stuff” is what always gets them to the majors quickly, it is the fine tuning that comes over time that will make them great pitchers.
Wheeler has already shown he has all the ability to become a top tier pitcher. He throws in the high 90’s and does it quite easily. His curveball and slider have a nice snap to it as he possesses a get me over curve and one that has a sharp break as an out pitch. The only problem is his command of all of his pitches.
I’m not saying he is Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn out there on the mound, he is simply missing his spots at times. You could see it last night that he was trying to groove his fastball when he was behind in the count in an attempt to keep himself in the strike zone. He threw a few get-me-over curveballs, like the one Tyler Flowers hit for a home run as his sharp breaking all was rarely thrown for a strike.
It can’t be easy to control a fastball at 98 or a slider at 91 but there happens to be another guy on this staff he has those same two pitches in his arsenal. Hopefully Harvey can become a sort of mentor, I know that sounds crazy for a second year player to be a mentor, but he is mature beyond his years and has already fine tuned his control. With Wheelers stuff, I would love to see him attack the strike zone in the same manner that Harvey does as his control improves.
Lets be patient with Wheeler this year. You have to remember this team is not making a playoff push this year, which makes it the perfect time for Wheeler to take his bumps and learn the ropes of the major leagues. Expect some ups and downs as he hopefully progresses into a co-ace to go along side Matt Harvey for years to come.