Zack Wheeler, once slated to be the ace of the New York Mets’ pitching rotation, will make his first start for the club since 2014.
The New York Mets opened their season with three consecutive stellar performances from their top starters, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. Now, as they reach the back end of their rotation, a lost but familiar name is scheduled to open the team’s second series of the year. Zack Wheeler, who once was the face of the Mets’ young rotation, is returning Friday night against the Miami Marlins.
Wheeler will start his first game for the Mets since the end of the 2014 season. Wheeler, drafted sixth overall by the San Francisco Giants in the 2009 amateur draft and acquired by the Mets in exchange for OF Carlos Beltran in 2011, missed the last two years due to injury.
Wheeler underwent Tommy John Surgery prior to the 2015 season and suffered several setbacks on the road back to Flushing. This spring, Wheeler re-established himself in the Mets’ plans and won the fourth starter job after Steven Matz and Seth Lugo were shelved with elbow problems.
The 26 year-old Wheeler went 1-2 with a 5.11 in four starts this spring but it is the liveliness of his arm that convinced the Mets to bring him north this month. Wheeler has been topping the radar gun at 97 MPH, giving the club all indications that he is ready to return.
— Zack Wheeler (@Wheelerpro45) March 30, 2017
Neither the Mets nor Wheeler know what to expect from him this season. Having not pitched in a Major League game in over 2 1/2 years will do that. The Mets do know this, however. They know they are lucky to have such a talent in their fold after losing two other starters to injury.
“I think adrenaline wise certainly he’ll be amped up and emotionally I’m sure he’ll be nervous,” manager Terry Collins told Newsday this week.
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Wheeler is going into this season with a fresh state. He hasn’t pitched in so long, it’s as if his career up to this point never happened.
It’s a fresh start for both him and the Mets. Given the other performances this week, it will be interesting to see if he can match his rotation mates. If he can, the Mets will be the team to beat in the NL East.