By William McInerney
Zack Wheeler is in his first season back after missing the last two years due to Tommy John surgery. Fans didn’t know what to expect from him in his return, and we are now halfway through the season. How has he done in his first half season of MLB action in two years?
For the season, Wheeler has a disappointing line. He’s put up a bad 5.29 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP. However, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Wheeler’s numbers are somewhat inflated due to his horrible last two starts. He’s been lit up in his two most recent starts, allowing a combined 15 runs in 3.2 innings. That is a horrendous number. However, after the second of those two starts, he was placed on the disabled list with bicep tendonitis, which was an issue that I’m sure was bothering him before his most recent start, as (A) tendonitis builds up over time and (B) the Mets medical staff couldn’t identify a problem with somebody if that person’s dismembered head was laying in front of them.
Prior to those two horrible starts in which he was pitching with an injured bicep, Wheeler had a 3.45 ERA for the season, which is perfectly fine for a pitcher today (currently the ERA for all pitchers in all games is 4.35 for this season, which is horrible for a league featuring the best pitchers in the world but that’s beside the point). Wheeler has been above average for the league this season, by almost a full run per nine innings.
The numbers get even better when you look further into them. In the month of May, Wheeler’s ERA was 2.74. Although that was only one month, it is a significant stat. Wheeler’s first month was spent figuring out how his pitches would play coming out of his hand and getting himself confident. His June stats are high due to his last two awful starts. In his first two starts in June, he threw 13.1 innings and gave up 3 earned runs, good for a 2.03 ERA.
These numbers show that, before his bicep injury, Wheeler was getting better and better as the year went on, and for a month and a half was pitching at an excellent level compared to the rest of the league. You could argue that, from the end of April to the middle of June, Wheeler was the best starter for the Mets.
In conclusion, Wheeler’s very high ERA is misleading, and he has had a very good year for the Mets this year, especially considering he’s missed the last two years with a major surgery. So be patient with him, let him get back healthy from his bicep issue, and be very excited for what he’ll bring to the Mets next year when he’s fully healthy.