In the month of June, New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler set a career-high for most innings thrown in a month as he continues his resurgence.
Throughout his entire career, New York Mets fans have been waiting to see Zack Wheeler reach his potential of being a top-of-the-line pitcher. While he is not all the way there yet, he is starting to show signs of it as he continues to stay healthy.
While the 28-year-old right-hander did not win a game in the month of June and he hasn’t recorded a win since April 29 (against the Padres), he ended June with 38.2 innings in the books. Does it seem significant on the surface? No. But that marks the highest amount of innings Wheeler has thrown in any month during his career.
Over the course of those six starts this month, Wheeler has a 3.26 ERA and has 33 strikeouts to 13 walks. Opponents have also hit .223 against him, which is the second lowest of any Mets pitcher behind Jacob deGrom (.212).
On Wednesday night, Wheeler had an excellent outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the bullpen blew the game for him as they have done time and time again. He went seven innings, gave up no runs on five hits, struck out seven, and walked one on 105 pitches. It was the fourth time he has gone seven innings in an outing this season.
Wheeler has come a long way from a pitcher that started the year in Triple-A Las Vegas. If you look at his success from an analytical standpoint, he has increased the average velocity on his fastball. According to Brooks Baseball, his heater has averaged out at 96.98 miles per hour this month and he only gave up one home run on that pitch.
In a conversation that Tim Healey of Newsday had with New York Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland, he talked about how the added velocity is good for Wheeler as long as it doesn’t take him out of his normal mechanics:
“I said, for example, if you’ve got 95 in the tank, without coming out of your delivery and without being violent, what’s the sense in throwing 91, 92? Be committed to every pitch. Attack with every pitch.”
In addition to the high velocity on his fastball, the curveball was a key pitch for Wheeler this month. In the 62 breaking balls that he threw, teams hit .154 without hitting a home run and they struck out six times. Out of those 62 curves, 27 of them came with two strikes (both stats courtesy of Brooks Baseball).
While Eiland and manager Mickey Callaway have yet to find success in their first years in Queens, they deserve some credit for the work they have done with Wheeler and Steven Matz. Matz only has nine walks this month in five starts and that is one walk less than deGrom.
If the Mets decide that they do not want to trade deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, then Wheeler’s trade value could be high if New York decides to move him while he’s become a consistent force on the mound. With the lack of premier starting pitchers available as of right now for contenders, this is a market where the Mets can make a good deal if they find the right prospects to trade for.
As the Mets pile up the losses, it is important to ignore Wheeler’s 2-6 win-loss record and look at the fact he is going deeper into games and showing the fastball that people expected. If he can continue this stretch, he can be a key piece of the future or be a part of the Mets’ rebuilding process via a trade.