Mar 9, 2015; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws in the spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The Return of Zack Wheeler

The fifth starter position in the pitching rotation will be an open competition. Depending on how Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins want to handle Zack Wheeler will determine if he is that guy.

A former sixth pick of the 2009 MLB Draft, Zack Wheeler was acquired from the San Francisco Giants in 2011 for Carlos Beltran. Things looked bright for the Georgia product until a torn ulnar collateral ligament led to Tommy John surgery. An injury that kept him out of baseball for two full seasons.

Wheeler’s comeback prospect was cut short in 2016 as a setback during a rehab assignment ended any chance of a return to help the pitching starved Metropolitans. Zack will most likely begin the season in the bullpen. A two-year layoff will certainly require time and a limited work schedule to build up the strength for a full major league season.

Why fans should be excited:

Zack Wheeler could be a star in the bullpen, for a team that needs a star to come out of the bullpen. Wheeler currently will be pitching on a one-year, $800,000 contract, so 2017 will be a low risk, high reward situation for Alderson. It’s not hard to conceive, Wheeler could be the closer of the future.