We all eagerly awaited his arrival. In June of 2013, that day finally came.
It was a sunny afternoon in Georgia, a doubleheader on tap for the Mets against the long rivaled Atlanta Braves. It was on this day that young pitching prospect Zack Wheeler would make his debut. If making his first major league appearance wasn’t stressful enough, he had to follow Matt Harvey. The Dark Knight went out and flirted with a no-hitter while striking out 13 for a Mets’ win in his 2012 debut. Considering the added pressure, Wheeler, the Atlanta native did not fail to impress.
He delivered an outstanding pitching performance: six scoreless innings, striking out seven batters and giving up only four hits. On this day, Mets fans knew their future was indeed bright.
A tandem of aces took the mound that day, which instilled not just confidence in the players, but also hope in a brighter future for Mets’ fans. This bright future suffered the most dreadful heartbreak when we lost Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery for the 2014 season. A void left in the front of the rotation would require someone to step up.
Insert the heir apparent, Zack Wheeler. In 2014, Wheeler started more games than any other Mets’ pitcher with 32 starts. He threw over 185 innings while striking out 187 batters. The ace posted a more than respectable ERA of 3.54, which was below the major league average. Wheeler finished the year with an even .500 record of 11-11, which does not do him justice for just how great he pitched. Frequently, Keith Hernandez spoke in the booth of how special Wheeler is. He is the perfect combination of wild and controlled, which keeps hitters off balance. Indeed, Zack Wheeler is a special pitcher.
Alas, Zack would suffer the same fate as Matt Harvey… Tommy John surgery. The 2015 season was lost. During his time away, Wheeler got to witness the rise of a rotation that teams could only dream of; Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. This starting rotation rivaled not only any other in baseball today, but could be matched up against any other in the history of the game. It couldn’t have been easy for him to sit at home and want to be apart of that.
Shortly thereafter, he found himself in the midst of trade rumors. First were the rumblings of being dealt to the likes of Cincinnati, followed by a confirmed deal including Wilmer Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers for center fielder and former Met Carlos Gomez. After this reported trade had fallen through, Wheeler contacted the general manager of the Mets, Sandy Alderson and asked that he stay on the team, he wasn’t done yet.
You cannot ask for much more than that from a player. Zack wants to pitch in New York for the Mets. He wants to be a part of helping this team win. Currently, Wheeler is rehabbing from his surgery and is already ahead of schedule in beginning a throwing program. Wheeler is scheduled to make his appearance around the All-Star break.
This is one Mets’ fan that can’t wait to add another ace back into potentially the best pitching rotation that baseball has ever seen.