Zack Wheeler makes his much-anticipated home debut today against the Nationals. This will be his third career start but his first in front of the flushing faithful.
A lot has been made of Matt Harvey’s starts, with each one being labeled “Harvey Day” and rightfully so. They have become an event of sorts to see what the young ace will do next. Now with the recent promotion of Zack Wheeler, the Mets hope a similar trend will begin to take place.
We have already seen signs of greatness, despite the mixed results in his first two starts. In his major league debut, he threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts against the division leading Braves in route to earning his first career win. It was a terrific debut as he lived up to the hype that had been surrounding him since the Carlos Beltran trade was made two years ago.
His second start didn’t go quite as smoothly. Wheeler lasted 5.1 innings allowing four runs with just one strikeout. Although this wasn’t a terrible start, it wasn’t great either. He was all over the place with his pitches and it has been reported that he was tipping his pitches. Both of which are things that I would be worried about if he were a veteran, but I won’t stress after just two starts.
What I took away most from Wheeler’s starts are his ability to get by without his best command. Wheeler has walked eight batters in his first two starts, but has only allowed eight hits as well. This give you an idea of how good his stuff is. Besides the one hanging breaking ball White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers took him deep on, you don’t see batters squaring up on the ball against him. This could be a telling sign that once Wheeler gets the full command of his pitches he could quickly become a dominant pitcher.
I expect the nerves might get to him again today, making his first start in front of the home crowd and all. But I look for him to settle in sooner rather than later and attack the strike zone. With the ability to throw in the high 90’s, he has no need to be pitching around the plate with the swing and miss stuff he possesses.
One thing I always enjoy doing at Mets games that I don’t think enough fans take advantage of is to head down behind the bullpen while the starting pitchers warm-up. It’s right in front of the center field entrance and gives you a great view of warm ups. You get an up close look of just how hard these guys throw and how incredible their breaking balls are. I’m looking forward to grabbing a spot early and watching Wheeler throw a bit before heading to my seat.
Today could mark the first of many “Wheeler days” at Citi Field, as he and Harvey are making at least two games a week must watch TV. With it being a Sunday afternoon game, David Wright bobble head day and Wheeler’s first home start, I expect a good crowd to be in attendance today.
Happy Wheeler Day? Hopefully something more trendy will come about.