Don’t expect much from Wright and Wheeler

david-wright-zack-wheelerIt’s been three years since either David Wright or Zack Wheeler played a full season of baseball. Both have tremendous talent and have worked really hard to rehabilitate from significant injuries, overcome adversity, and maintain confidence. They deserve a lot of credit and we’re all rooting for them. But, while it would be wonderful if either of them played a significant role on the team this coming season, it’s not likely. And that is okay.

In the best case scenario for Wright, he’ll spend three hours stretching before games and manage to play through the discomfort and stiffness brought on by spinal stenosis. He’ll regain enough flexibility and strength to play a decent third base and reclaim a spot in the batting order. Even then, the front office and coaches will err on the side of caution and only play him three or four games a week so as to not put to much strain on his back. Realistically, even if Wright should manage to play a passable third base and hit for a decent average, at least against lefties, he’s not likely to possess any home run power, and will often be limited to DH or pinch hitting duties. Should he miss significant time, Jose Reyes can become the regular third baseman, while batting lead off. Backing up Reyes is Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera. Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker could both play third if necessary and there’s always Matt Reynolds as well The team, like its fans, is rooting for the captain, but it can survive without him.

Similarly, Wheeler, while he appears healthy at the moment, will be watched very closely in spring training to make sure he’s more or less back to the pitcher he showed he can be back in 2014. It’s been so long since we’ve seen Wheeler on the mound that it’s easy to forget just how electric his stuff is – the moving fastball, the wipeout slider, and occasional curves, changeups and two-seamers mixed in when hitters least expect it. Again, all fans and teammates are rooting for him, but even in the best case scenario, Wheeler will be held to a very strict innings limit of about 100 innings, which amounts to him either being shut down in the summer, or else being used as a five-inning starter who requires a piggy back long reliever for every start. Should Wheeler prove unable to pitch most of the season, or else relegated to the bullpen, we’re all pretty confident that Robert Gsellman can step in and be a solid fifth arm in the rotation. Seth Lugo, who also proved himself capable last season, provides nice depth.

The truth is that the heath of these two is very much up in the air, but how it plays out might not really matter. The success of this team mostly hinges on four players – Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey. If those four are healthy and put up All-Star numbers, this team is going deep in the playoffs. There’s quality depth behind everyone else from the field, to the lineup, rotation, and bullpen .As Cespedes and the big three righties go, so do the 2017 Mets.

11 comments for “Don’t expect much from Wright and Wheeler

  1. February 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I’m afraid for Wright’s career at this point. I’ve written about that.

    Assuming he can bring it, I would see if I could put Wheeler on the 60-day DL at the end of camp anyway, then bring him back in late July. He could be a lethal arm down the stretch.

    Y’know, similar to what the Yankees used to do with El Duque…

    • MattyMets
      February 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Extended spring training, followed by some work out of the bullpen…

  2. Popeye
    February 24, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Gsellman starts,pitches 6 innings,Wheeler is his piggyback guy. 2-3 innings every fifth or sixth day.

  3. David Groveman
    February 24, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I understand the doom and gloom but I don’t understand harping on it.

    Wright and Wheeler may not offer much in 2017.

    Wright may never offer much again.

    Wheeler may bounce back into form.

    Being negative seems unnecessary.

    • Jimmy P
      February 25, 2017 at 9:31 am

      It’s funny, I can be so “half-full” at times I didn’t even notice that Matt’s post was negative.

  4. February 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve already written off Wright from ever being a significant contributor again and my expectations in 2017 for Wheeler are somewhere between low and non-existent.

    I like both players very much.

    • Jimmy P
      February 24, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      I have hope for Wheeler — love the idea of him in the pen, in July, throwing gasoline — but low expectations, if that makes sense. Not counting on it. Not a plan. But still, I think, a real possibility.

      On Wright, I expect that a year from now he’ll be officially retired and heartbroken.

      • February 24, 2017 at 6:12 pm

        I agree – think Wheeler in the pen could be a huge asset.

        But I get the sense that it’s more likely he opens in extended ST with the idea of being exclusively a SP for whenever he reaches the majors.

  5. Eraff
    February 25, 2017 at 7:39 am

    What is their ability to put Wheeler at an MILB Location to Build Strength and Length?… does he have “Options”?

    • February 25, 2017 at 8:27 am

      According to Chris Walendin at his wonderful tpgmets site, Wheeler has two options.

  6. Metsense
    February 26, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I didn’t take Matt’s article to be doom and gloom but a practicable assessment of the two players. If both players don’t make it back there are plenty of options in place. If they do perform well then it is icing on the cake. This is a very deep team and a potential juggernaut.

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