In six innings last night, Mets starter Zack Wheeler gave up one run and struck out six. That isn’t saying much in the context of a normal season, but it was a welcome sight for a Mets team that has gotten very little from its starting rotation this season. Wheeler left the game with the score tied 1-1, and then of course the Mets’ bullpen blew it, allowing six runs in the bottom of the eighth.
The Mets’ bullpen is struggling, hard, but really who can blame them? They’ve been scrambling to clean up the messes made by the starting rotation all year, and now closer Jeurys Familia is expected to be out for a few weeks. As things stand now, the Mets’ bullpen has the fourth-worst ERA in the league.
The season may already be lost, which is unfortunate given the fact that Wheeler has looked good in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He should be providing an already unassailable Mets rotation with an unexpected boost right now, but instead he’s suffering as one of the team’s few positive contributors.
Wheeler’s been a long project for the Mets. He pitched well in his rookie year 2013, and followed that season up with a solid 185.1 innings in 2014. Then he missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons after Tommy John surgery and setbacks in rehab. At age (almost) 27, Wheeler’s finally trying to get on track and move forward with his career. He’s currently sitting with a cool 3.76 ERA in 38.1 innings, and his ERA is inflated by his first start of the season, a stomping against the Marlins in which he gave up six runs in four innings. That’s about where he finished in 2013 and 2014, settling with a 3.42 ERA and 3.54 ERA, respectively.
Wheeler’s not the most dazzling pitcher you’ll see on the mound, but he’s getting the job done for the Mets, which is more than most of the poor overworked saps (and Matt Harvey) can offer up. The team will have to be patient with him early this season as he re-acclimates to the majors, and they could expect some road bumps along the way. But it would be pretty cool and good if Wheeler has a strong season after getting two years wiped out by injury. Let’s just hope he’s not the next player to fall victim to whatever curse the Mets have conjured up this season.