New York Mets: 5 Reasons Zack Wheeler Will Be Ready for MLB Debut Come September
The Mets' top prospect, Zack Wheeler, is currently having a great season for the AA Binghamton Mets. After being traded from the Giants' organization in 2010 for Carlos Beltran, the Mets have certainly gotten the steal out of this trade.
Wheeler is currently 7-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 14 starts. He has a fastball that can reach 96-97 MPH, a devastating curveball, a strong slider and a solid changeup.
Despite the 35 walks he has allowed so far, Wheeler does have good command of his pitches, as shown by his 82 strikeouts. He probably won't become a replica of Stephen Strasburg as far as strikeouts go, but he will likely rack up more strikeouts than the average pitcher.
At just 22 years old, Wheeler's future looks very bright and could very well include a National League Cy Young Award or two down the road. Time will tell how the Mets' future ace's career will go.
Here are five reasons why Zack Wheeler will make his major league debut this September.
1. The Mets and Their Fans Really Want to See Him in Person
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Ever since Wheeler's trade to New York, Mets fans have heard nothing but good things about him and are probably very excited to see him when he finally makes his professional debut.
Being that Mets fans aren't really able to see Wheeler pitch in the minor leagues, all they can do is look up his numbers online. But the fans want to actually see him pitch in person.
The Mets could make this possible by including Wheeler as one of the September call-ups when the active rosters increase from 25 to 40 players beginning on September 1.
On the other hand, Wheeler himself probably wants to show the Mets and their fans who he is as a pitcher and what he is capable of doing. As a result, he is probably quite motivated to pitch well right now in the hopes of that September call-up becoming a reality.
2. Wheeler Has Been Doing Very Well This Year in AA Binghamton
Wheeler is 7-4 this year in AA Binghamton with a 2.74 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 14 starts and 85.1 innings pitched.
Wheeler is tied for fifth in the Eastern League in wins, is fourth in ERA, tied for 17th in innings pitched, fourth in strikeouts and sixth with a 1.11 WHIP.
The Mets do not plan to rush Wheeler through the system that quickly, but it's clear that he is dominating Double-A baseball and should be seeing a promotion to Triple-A sometime soon.
3. Wheeler Is Likely to Get Promoted to AAA Buffalo Soon
Being that Wheeler is having such a good season in AA Binghamton, a promotion to AAA Buffalo should be happening sometime this month, especially if Jeurys Familia gets sent down. Wheeler could then take his spot.
Again, the Mets are not going to rush Wheeler through the system, but with the success he has had in Double-A, it would be good for him to see how he fares against Triple-A hitters.
If Wheeler has a few bad starts in Triple-A, he could always be sent back down to Double-A. Furthermore, if he does happen to experience some sort of failure, it would be good for him to learn how to deal with it now instead of having to deal with it in the majors down the road.
All in all, there are more pros than cons as to why Wheeler should get promoted to AAA right now.
4. The Mets Probably Want to Have Him Pitch Throughout the Entire Season
Allison Joyce/Getty Images
Due to the fact that the minor league seasons all end by September, the Mets' front office would probably want Wheeler to keep pitching for the extra month rather than having him rest during that time.
Wheeler's potential role with the team in September of course depends on what kind of position the Mets are in as far as postseason contention goes. If the Mets are in a very close division or wild-card race, the likelihood of Wheeler making a few starts is not as high.
Thus, the Mets might only be able to afford having Wheeler make a few starts if they are not in a very close postseason race. If the the standings are close, Wheeler might not be given any starts due to his lack of experience, although he could always pitch in relief as a mop-up pitcher in order to get some innings should such a situation ever arise.
It will be interesting to see how the Mets' season goes in the second half and how the season itself will affect how many opportunities Wheeler and other young Mets pitching prospects will get in September.
5. The Mets' Starting Rotation Could Have Injury Issues by September
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Hopefully, the Mets' entire current starting rotation stays healthy throughout the rest of this season and beyond, but if one of the Mets' starters suffers an injury down the stretch, the Mets will have no choice but to promote their minor league starters as replacements.
Chris Young has a long history of shoulder injuries, while Johan Santana is coming off shoulder surgery of his own and Jon Niese has had leg injuries in the past. R.A. Dickey and Dillon Gee both do not have a particular history of injuries.
Logically, Matt Harvey will be the Mets' top injury replacement choice from the minor league and could even be promoted to the Mets' major league staff by August unless Gee starts to pitch significantly better.
However, if two of the Mets' current starters get hurt, Wheeler should be the second injury replacement because he is more qualified than any other Mets starter besides Harvey.
Jeurys Familia has struggled with his control throughout the year and is more likely to be a reliever if the Mets indeed end up promoting him later in the season. One-time starter Jenrry Mejia is also very likely to remain a reliever as he works toward potentially becoming the Mets' closer of the future.
Other than that, the rest of the Mets' pitching prospects are not as far developed as Wheeler, Harvey, Familia and Mejia.
The Mets' goal is for no injuries to happen to anyone, but just in case two of the Mets' starters do get hurt later in the season, expect Wheeler to get called up after Harvey to replace the second injured starter.