Zack Wheeler and “Is This All There Is?”

Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Management, Media, MiLB, Players, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats

The following numbers are from the first three starts of pitchers who wound up being pretty good. You can compare them with the final pitcher’s numbers in his first three starts.

Clayton Kershaw

W

L

GS

IP

H

BB

SO

HR

ERA

0

1

3

14.2

15

9

14

2

4.91

Tim Lincecum

W

L

GS

IP

H

BB

SO

HR

ERA

1

0

3

18.1

14

7

21

3

3.44

Matt Harvey

W

L

GS

IP

H

BB

SO

HR

ERA

1

2

3

16.1

15

7

23

2

3.86

CC Sabathia

W

L

GS

IP

H

BB

SO

HR

ERA

2

0

3

16.2

14

6

8

1

4.86

Zack Wheeler

W

L

GS

IP

H

BB

SO

HR

ERA

1

1

3

16.0

14

10

13

3

5.06

These are provided to illustrate why there shouldn’t be an overreaction to a shaky start for a rookie. You can go through other pitchers—good and bad; Hall of Famer or journeyman; overachiever or disappointment—and find numbers from their first three starts to validate any opinion and analysis. The point is that coming to a determination at this time is meaningless.

The negativity surrounding Wheeler’s up-and-down first three starts is either for the purpose of riling people up and validating anger for the pitching prospect failing to have pitched three straight no-hitters to start his career or it’s emanating from those who know absolutely nothing about baseball and its history.

This from Andy Martino of the NY Daily News hammers home my point perfectly:

With so much of the team’s hope and plan based around pitching, and Wheeler the most talented minor leaguer after Matt Harvey joined the big club last summer, struggle this deep cannot help but cause anxiety.

Wheeler has now given the Mets one strong yet flawed start (six shutout innings in Atlanta, survived despite command problems and pitch tipping), an effort in Chicago that we can call middling, if we wish to be kind, and Sunday’s blowout loss.  After the loss to the White Sox last week, one National League talent evaluator’s strong opinion was that Wheeler was not ready for the major leagues.

“Why is he here?” the evaluator wondered, noting command and delivery concerns that could be ironed out with more Triple-A innings. “Why don’t they do what they did with Harvey last year (call him up in late July)? What’s the rush?”

Anxiety? Are Sandy Alderson and his staff people on Twitter who have no clue about anything baseball related? Are they the “experts” who call Mike Francesa and go into a deranged rant when the players they’ve read about so endlessly struggle to start their careers? These are the same players who were promoted as saviors by the same media now looking on with questioning “is that all there is?”. The bewilderment after three starts punctuates the foolishness.

Why is he here? Late July? Was that going to make that significant a difference? Let’s entertain the lack of logic for a moment. What if Wheeler was called up in late July as Harvey was a year ago and he pitched identically as he is now? Would it then be shifted to, “Why didn’t they just wait until September?” Or, “Why didn’t they just give him the full year in Triple A?”

Where does it end?

He’s a young pitcher just starting out in his career. Expecting him to be like Harvey; panicking because he’s having trouble adjusting to the big leagues; going crazy and demanding he be traded or asserting—via invisible sources—that he was overrated are the rantings of a mass of people who are either trying to stoke the fires of discontent or don’t know anything to begin with.

He’s made three starts for a team that, barring anything unforeseen or miraculous, is going to win around 75 games. Is that cause for panic? To demand a trade? To provide devil’s advocate nonsense disguised as analysis and buttressed by anonymous scouts?

No.

He’s got great talent. Either he’ll make it or he won’t. Coming to a conclusion after three starts elucidates the problems with rapid fire information and everyone having a forum to express their viewpoint: either it’s promotional or it’s ignorant. You can choose which based on the source and respond accordingly. Or you can listen to it and demand the Mets trade or demote the “bust.” After three starts.

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4 thoughts on “Zack Wheeler and “Is This All There Is?”

  1. Oh, it gets better (worse) than that. Roy Halladay was so terrible when they first called him up, they had to send him back down. Johan Santana was godawful his entire first year, and the Twins held on to him only because he was rule 5 and they had to. Randy Johnson did okay for his first September cup of coffee, but the year after that he was so wretched that the Expos dumped him without ceremony on the Mariners. Cy Young winners, all of them.

    It might help if all the Mets’ beat reports weren’t too young to have remembered the young Nolan Ryan, who resembles Wheeler in more ways than one, and who had most of the exact same things said about him. They ran him out of town, and now this generation wants to do it with Wheeler. They never frigging learn.

    1. We can look at it the other way too. Jeff Pico pitched a 4-hit shutout in his first big league start. And remember a Mets pitcher named Jason Jacome? I don’t blame the fans or the Mets front office. I blame the media and what makes it worse is that some members of the media know better and they’re stoking fan anger because of editorial edict without context that it’s the kid’s first few starts in the majors and that he needs to be given a chance. After 30 starts if he’s this inconsistent? Okay. After three? Please.

      1. What I mostly remember about Jacome was that he was the source of one of Chris Berman’s most horribly painful puns: Jason Jacome Be Lovers If We Can’t Be Friends. Arrrgh.

        And yeah, if there’s anyone who’s not experiencing “anxiety” about this, it’s Sandy Alderson. He knows. Martino is just trolling, as usual. And there was no reason on earth to leave Wheeler in Vegas any longer. He already knows how to pitch there. Has anyone maybe stopped to think that pitchers coming out of Vegas might need more of an adjustment period because the environment there is so different?

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