|After a nice rookie season, will Zack Wheeler fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump? Photo from metro.us|
After a pretty good showing in his rookie season, the most important piece to look for in a young baseball player is development. Even within the context of his first season, Wheeler improved from his debut on June 18, through the end of the year. When he first came up, there was concern amongst fans about his control problems.
For those, like myself, who followed him throughout his minor league career, the walks weren't a huge surprise. In fact, that was expected to be a part of the deal with him. He's a hard thrower who may occasionally be too wild.
But again, the key is improvement. Because walks were his biggest issue, we'll take a quick look at how that changed throughout the year. He pitched 100 innings before being shut down at the end of the year. Over the first nine starts, in which he pitched 50.2 innings, he pitched 41 strikeouts, and allowed 28 walks. From August 10 on, he had 8 starts, pitched 49.1 innings, and had 43 strikeouts, while only giving up 18 walks. As you can see, his Cholula flamethrowing abilities didn't dissipate, but he was able to spot those fastballs properly as he gained more experience in the majors.
Overall, he ended up with pretty good numbers. A 3.42 ERA is nothing to sneeze at. He's a pretty good pitcher, who should only get better as time passes. The more chemistry he builds with Travis UpsideDownP'Arnaud, the easier it will be for him to improve. Even without Matt Harvey, with the addition of Bartolo Colon, less will be expected of him than towards the end of the year. He'll probably be the third starter, behind Colon and Jonathon Niese. Maybe the lessened pressure can translate to some success this year as he shows himself to be the player the Mets thought he would be.