The Mets as a franchise are banking on strong starting pitching to carry the team from the mediocre team they have been in the recent past back to being perennial playoff contenders. A big part of their hopes will rest on the shoulders of Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler is part of a trio of young hard throwing right handers that the Mets hope to have at the top of their rotation for years to come along with Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. Harvey had an outstanding season last year before an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery to repair ended his 2013 season and will likely cost him all of this season and Syndergaard is likely to join the Mets from their AAA affiliate at some point this season, so in the early going of 2014 the eyes of the Mets faithful will be locked in on Wheeler’s every start.
The 23 year old Wheeler started 17 games for the Mets last year, posting a 7-5 record with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.360 WHIP. He was not dominant in any one outing, going 7 innings only 3 times, but he was solid as a rookie for the Mets after his call up in June.
Wheeler made it clear this spring that he wanted to be the Mets’ Opening Day starter with Harvey sidelined, but manager Terry Collins has decided to keep the pressure’s associated with that role off of the young starter by naming veteran righty Dillon Gee as the Mets starter against the Washington Nationals on March 31st. That does not diminish the importance of Wheeler to the Mets’ hopes of having a successful season this year. If the Mets are going to be a contender they will need Wheeler to make big strides from his performance last year and prove himself to be the legitimate top of the rotation pitcher the Mets hoped they were acquiring when general manager Sandy Alderson traded Carlos Beltran to the San Fransisco Giants for him back in July of 2011.