The 23-year-old pitching phenom for the Mets made his second start of his young career on Tuesday night, but he couldn't follow up his six-shutout-innings performance in his first start.
Wheeler gave up four runs in less than six innings, including his first of his career in the first.
Zack Wheeler gave up his first run in his seventh inning as a big leaguer. Single, stolen base, groundout, RBI groundout. #Mets— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 26, 2013
Wheeler was shelled by the White Sox, surrendering four earned runs on four hits and three walks, including a home run over 5.1 innings pitched. What's worse is that his pitch count soared again, reaching 109 pitches (43 balls) while retiring just 16 batters.
It's natural to see young pitchers struggle, just like Matt Harvey did when he started for the Mets.
Matt Harvey, 3rd start: 5IP,8H,5R,2HR,5K Zack Wheeler, 2nd start: 5.1IP,4H,4R,1HR,1K So before you compare incorrectly, relax!— Greg Kantor (@gkantor_18) June 26, 2013
Mets fans were quick to jump on Wheeler and begin to weep for the future of the franchise, but these things happen to young guns.
The Zack Wheeler bubble busted already? IMHO he won't be another Matt Harvey..— Patrick Piteo (@patrickpiteo) June 26, 2013
I know Zack Wheeler needs some time, but I didn't think his start tonight would be this bad #Mets— Michael Mandelkern (@metsonmymind) June 26, 2013
Wheeler has a lot to learn after his start on Tuesday, both from his own failures and from watching the ace across from him.
Sale was solid again on Tuesday. While he didn't shut the Mets down all night, he showed Wheeler how to work around problems and find ways to go deep in games, despite giving up three runs in five innings.
The reason why Sale went 2.3 innings longer than Wheeler, while throwing only one more pitch, was because he made all of his pitches count.
While Sale came right at the Mets lineup, Wheeler danced around the White Sox all night.
zack wheeler's stuff is so electric. he's so young. when he learns how to harness it consistently, he will be absolutely filthy— Jon Presser (@metsjetsnets88) June 26, 2013
I don't understand why Zack Wheeler nibbles so much. Just throw the ball over the plate dude!— Adam Aizer (@AdamAizer) June 26, 2013
Wheeler struggled with his command again on Tuesday, walking three more batters to bring his total up to eight walks in two games.
He also showed that he can struggle wringing batters up himself, recording just one strikeout compared to Sale's 13.
While both pitchers have great pitches and the ability to run through lineups, the confidence levels and approaches by the two couldn't be more different. Wheeler nibbled on the corners and missed 39.4 percent of the time, whereas Sale went ahead in the count early, consistently throwing first-pitch strikes.
Chris Sale ran into some contact in 7th inning but gets a 6-3 double play to get out of it. Has 20/25 first-pitch strikes. Thrown 93 pitches— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) June 26, 2013
Sale wasn't afraid of hitters, while Wheeler looked like he was at times. This was what allowed him to pitch deep into the game, and Wheeler needs to take note.
As long as he keeps coming from behind in pitch counts, he will struggle at times, and he must try to mimic Sale's approach in the future.