Welcome back WheelerHarvey, deGrom, and Steven Matz are all projected to be in good health for the beginning of Spring Training. Zack Wheeler, while apparently in the same situation, is now forever a question mark after having his 2016 return pushed back again and again, until that return would be no more. That means Wheeler has been absent from the Mets’ rotation for two full seasons in a row.
The once top prospect traded from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran was having a fine opening to his career in 2013 and ’14, posting a 3.50 ERA and 271 strikeouts in 285.1 innings tossed during that span.
So while he has proven to be more than capable of being a middle-of-the-rotation arm, two years out of the 162-game regular season grind is tough to come back from without any issues at all.
Discussions within the franchise have already begun about putting Wheeler in the bullpen to open the year, slowly working him back into his old starting gig in the process. TC would surely love to see that happen with Familia likely to be out for some time, while the Robert Gsellman/Seth Lugo duo could fill in for Wheeler during his transition.
But with uncertainty shrouding the Mets’ rotation after surgeries became a norm this offseason, a healthy Wheeler starting, in the ‘pen, or both would go a long way in helping the team in Queens have another successful season.