Baseball’s reliance on increasingly advanced stats can be alienating for those who don’t spend a large chunk of their summers deep in FanGraphs databases and Statcast k-holes. But sometimes, all you need is to look at a box score and see one player going buckwild to understand what happened.
Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler flexed on the Phillies both on the mound and in the batter’s box in Tuesday’s 9-0 rout. The starter finished with 11 strikeouts in seven shutout innings, but it was his work with a bat in his hands that doomed Philadelphia.
In the second inning, Wheeler (whose name will always remind me of Pete Wheeler from Backyard Baseball) cracked a two-run double off Phillies starter Zach Eflin, which gave the Mets an early 3-0 lead and proved who was the superior Zack/Zach. That was enough to work with on the other side, with batter after batter whiffing in a futile quest to pin down Wheeler’s pitches.
Wheeler also joined the “100/100 Club” with his first career home run in the fourth inning. The dinger had an exit velocity of 101.4 mph, making him the first pitcher this season to throw a pitch over 100 mph and hit a ball with an exit velocity over 100 mph. This accomplishment is cherry-picked, and arbitrary, but sure, whatever.
To top off one of the best pitching performances of the young season, Wheeler also was the fifth pitcher in Mets history to strike out 10 or more batters in a game in which he also homered. Jacob deGrom became the fourth earlier this season, with a 14-strikeout performance against the Marlins on April 3. Since it isn’t always a given with this team, let’s confirm: Yes, the Mets won that game, 6-4.