We should all preach patience with Zack Wheeler

On Friday night in Milwaukee, Zack Wheeler made his fourth career start for the Mets.

While it wasn’t a thing of beauty, Wheeler did collect his second win on the year nonetheless. Wheeler pitched the minimum five innings to qualify for the win. In those five innings, Wheeler gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out three batters. It’s amazing he gave up only three runs (one earned) in the outing.

The thing is, Wheeler battled hard all night and got some key outs when he had to. Especially in the 5th inning.

With the bases loaded and one out, and the tying run at the plate, Wheeler first got Jonathan Lucroy to pop up to shallow center. He then got Juan Francisco to look at a called third strike to end the inning. The Mets would tack on more runs and Wheeler would get his second win.

Wheeler and the Mets were also clearly the beneficiary of some shoddy Milwaukee defense, as the Brewers were a fundamental mess (playing some of the sloppiest baseball I can remember) on the night, which led to the easy 12-5 Mets victory.

Wheeler wasn’t the story on this night, though.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis (4-5 with five RBI’s and three runs scored) had his best game as a professional and Ike Davis (3-5 with two RBI’s and two runs scored) had an inspiring first game back from the minors.

However, the talk of Wheeler’s development is the story with the Mets and their fans these days, with some even suggesting he is a bust.

Through four starts, Wheeler is 2-2 with an uneven 4.29 ERA and unhealthy 1.62 WHIP. To some, that’s not enough. We were sold a bag a goods on Wheeler and those current numbers do not line up with what we were sold.

Wheeler is having a tough time staying consistent, confident and poised on the mound.

It is becoming readily apparent that Wheeler was not ready for his call up. Wheeler is still having a real difficult time with his command. But as Andy Martino points out in his column, it actually maybe better that Wheeler works out all the kinks now in the big leagues. This way when next season comes along, Wheeler may be ready to fully contribute while working over his issues this year.

Wheeler was not going to do what Matt Harvey has been able to do thus far. That was an unfair expectation that many critics unnecessarily put on Wheeler. Wheeler’s maturation and development has to be viewed differently than that of Harvey. They are two completely different animals.

Obviously, some—if not the vast majority—pitchers need time to grow and mature into a complete pitcher.  Wheeler is definitely be one of those pitchers.

There will most certainly be an adjustment period for Wheeler, and like it or not, Wheeler will likely continue to struggle this year. That’s okay, as long as he doesn’t struggle when the Mets are position to challenge for a playoff spot, we can live with Wheeler’s struggles right now.

It should be understood that the early hole Wheeler finds himself in can happen to young phenoms—even ones gifted as much as Wheeler. Look at the early struggles of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee, etc. The list goes on and on.

Buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Mets’ fans must remain patient, as it appears Wheeler will need a little time to develop into the ace we are drumming him up to be.

6 comments for “We should all preach patience with Zack Wheeler

  1. Michael von Graevenitz
    July 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I agree. Patience is the key. Without looking it up, I think Dwight Gooden went a very podestrian 9-9 before he went on his year and a half run that netted him not only ROY but also the Cy Young the next year.

  2. July 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I don’t think you should get your hopes up in thinking that the Mets can contend for a playoff wildcard this year. The bull pen will take care of your wishful thinking. Just wait until the Mets have to face the Cardinals, Pirates,Reds and other playoff contenders. The Mets can’t beat the Marlins consistently and yet you believe the playoffs are within reach. I need to drink what you’re drinking so I can float on the air going to work.

  3. July 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I think that New York broadcasting is the best in MLB. (Same with NHL)

    Keith Hernandez has so won me over with his snarky, Grumpy Cat comments.

    At the error from the Brewers’ third basement in the 7th, he said, “I’m not a fan.”

    I find myself replaying games just to listen to the analysis of both Keith and Ron. Great stuff. We have Gary Cohen as a fan, which is nice, but the substance from the other two is rich.

    • NormE
      July 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Peter, did you catch Keith’s comment regarding Josh Satin’s performance? He said that Josh had played well and opened up some “eyebrows”. The misstatement was funny enough, but he was speaking about Satin (the thickest eyebrows since Groucho). There was silence in the booth for a long time before Gary regained his composure. Keith is a treasure, albeit a grumpy one at times.

      • Name
        July 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        I laughed so hard when he said that.

  4. July 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

    my post was off topic…

    as to Wheeler, this is the perfect call: Patience.
    Let him adjust, pitch by pitch, to how the big leagues punish pitchers for each lapse of concentration.

    He has all the tools, he is ready, and he is doing very well.

    Harvey is the exception, which may have a lot to do with his upbringing.

    Barring injury, Zach Wheeler is the real thing. We have two top pitchers and they may end up being the best One Two punch in the league, later this year, or next.

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