Zack Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2015, with an anticipated return to the majors around July of the 2016 campaign. In early June, that target was moved to after the All-Star break as the one-time, top prospect was slow to work breaking pitches into his recovery. In late June, Wheeler experienced soreness in his throwing elbow which turned out to be sensory nerve irritation, treatable with a cortisone injection. The right-hander continued his rehab, finally throwing in a game for High-A St. Lucie on August 6, tossing 17 pitches with excellent velocity. However, Wheeler felt more elbow soreness and was diagnosed with a mild flexor strain. This nixed Wheeler's return in 2016 and shut him down completely until pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February. His progress is worth monitoring in the spring, but for now, Wheeler is a reserve-round flier at best.
Wheeler (1-2) allowed two runs, one of which was earned, on five hits and four walks while striking out four over 4.2 innings, but received no decision Saturday against the Nationals. Wheeler gave up a boat load of baserunners, though he was fortunate to allow just a single earned run before his exit, which came after he fired 96 pitches. He's failed to toss a quality start in any of his five appearances, and his ERA sits at 4.78, making him a fairly unreliable fantasy option. However, his main area of strength is his ability to post strikeouts, as he's punched out 25 batters across 26.2 innings. He'll make his next start Thursday against the Braves.
Wheeler (1-2) allowed four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six over seven innings in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Nationals. He got ambushed in the first inning -- Adam Eaton reached on a HBP that barely grazed his elbow, followed in quick succession by a Trea Turner infield single, a Bryce Harper opposite-field single and a Daniel Murphy grand slam. However, Wheeler settled down nicely after that, holding the Nats scoreless for the next six innings and giving the Mets a chance to get back into the game. The right-hander ended his night throwing 65 of 101 pitches for strikes in his longest outing so far this season. While Wheeler's 5.40 ERA isn't great, it isn't reflective of his 1.11 WHIP or 21:6 K:BB through 21.2 innings. He'll get a chance at revenge on the NL East leaders Saturday in Washington.
Wheeler (1-1) gave up three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four over 5.2 innings in a win against the Phillies on Wednesday. This start -- his first win since 2014 -- was better than the box score, as the righty cruised through five scoreless frames, only to be yanked after loading the bases in the sixth; Hansel Robles promptly gave up a grand slam to Maikel Franco, accounting for all three of Wheeler's runs. Still, it's concerning that he seemed to run out of steam and ended up throwing just 85 pitches before being removed; it seems like Wheeler still needs to build up his endurance after a lengthy absence from MLB action. He's slated to meet the Phillies again Tuesday, this time at Citi Field.
Wheeler (0-1) gave up five run on six hits and a walk while striking out four over four innings in Friday's 7-2 loss to the Marlins. Pitching on 924 days rest after his long recovery from Tommy John surgery, Wheeler whiffed two of the first four batters he faced but quickly fell back to earth after the adrenaline wore off. There were some positives to the outing -- he threw 54 of 80 pitches for strikes, and his fastball topped out at 97 mph -- but stamina and consistency are likely going to be issues for Wheeler for as long as the Mets let him pitch this season. His next start is scheduled for Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Manager Terry Collins said that Wheeler will throw around 85 pitches in Friday's start against the Marlins, James Wagner of The New York Times reports. Collins also noted that Wheeler wouldn't be given the hook early in order to save his innings count. It seems like the Mets are still being a bit cautious with the right-hander given his extensive injury history, but it's still good to see the leash is fairly long for Wheeler's first MLB start since 2014. He'll be facing off against Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen in Friday's tilt.
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