There are many things that one could point to as what could make or break the New York Mets in 2019. The first, and always the first thing on everyone’s mind is health. It seems like a rare occasion now when the Mets can escape a season without becoming derailed due to injury. With that priority aside, one can look to a player to hinge the success of the season upon. Michael Conforto, if he puts together a complete season, can be a player that makes or breaks the Mets. However, there is another Met that has the potential to have an even bigger impact on how the team finishes.
Zack Wheeler had the best season of his career for the Mets last season, and one of the best second halves of any starting pitcher in baseball. Wheeler flat-out dominated his opponents after the midway point of the season, going a sparkling 9-1, with an ERA of 1.68. His opponents hit .179 against him in the second half. To say that Wheeler found himself would be an understatement. He has also seemingly picked up where he left off from, striking out four Cardinals in 5.1 innings on Thursday. He also did not walk anyone, and only gave up two hits.
It is a big year for Wheeler. He is an unrestricted free agent following the conclusion of the season. This most likely means that he will be pitching his absolute best for the money in the offseason, which should be enough to make opponents shake in their boots. The Mets have one of, if not the best 1-2-3 combinations in baseball after you throw Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in front of Wheeler. Their best competition sits in the same division, as the Nationals boast the not too shabby trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and the newly-acquired Patrick Corbin.
The last name of that trio is exactly why Wheeler will have such an impact on this team. In a three game series, the Mets have the potential to have an automatic advantage just because of the depth that the trio gives them. While things might not always line up perfectly for a deGrom-Syndergaard-Wheeler weekend, there is always a good chance that you will see two out of those three elite pitchers in the same series. Getting to the point where he can be an ace has been a priority of Wheeler’s, as he himself told Tim Healy of Newsday that “Everybody wants to be at the highest peak there is. We just happen to have two guys who are basically already there on our team. It’s my goal to get there. Last year, I think I found that. Hopefully I can continue.”
Wheeler has the potential to turn this rotation from good to the best in baseball. If he, deGrom, and Syndergaard can all pitch healthily and at the elite level that they are capable of, the team is able to compete for a division crown. Mets fans who are excited to see the trio in action against tough competition are in luck, as the Mets open the season against the Washington Nationals, and their power trio.