Posted by Christopher Soto at 10:28 AM
The Mets have announced that RHP Zack Wheeler will open the season on the MLB roster as a SP and will be 4th in the rotation. The Wheeler announcement comes after the Mets learned that while an MRI for LHP Steven Matz came back clean, team doctors did recommend he be shut down from throwing activities for 3 weeks.
Without the option to use a backdated 10 day DL to get Matz to pitch Game 6 of the season, the club re-visited their initial plans in regards to a proposed 100-125 Innings limit for Wheeler in 2017. Per assistant GM John Ricco yesterday, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is. There’s no sleep chamber that you can put him in and then wake up in Mars. No matter what you do, there’s stuff that’s going to happen in the interim.” Ricco followed up by saying the team will let Wheeler perform to the best of his abilities and revisit the topic with team doctors as the season progresses to re-evaluate Wheeler’s workload.
The biggest reason the club felt confident with this decision is due to Wheeler's excellent progress this spring. Wheeler started the spring with a fastball between 91-93 mph but has since over the past 4 weeks strengthen it back to his pre-surgery range of 95-97 mph. According to scouts at his last game, "He had life on the fastball and his breaking balls had a nice edge. The ball really came out of his hand today. Good rotation on his breaking ball. Had a good changeup. He’s coming along real fast.”
(In my opinion, this has been quite the unexpected but pleasant development. It wasn't too long ago where scouts believed Wheeler could be the best #2 SP in the MLB so if he's 90% right now and can get to 100% as the season moves along....this is a HUGE boost for the Mets rotation. This also allows them to carry Seth Lugo in the bullpen to possibly limit Wheeler to go only 5-6 IP which (if the 125 IP were still valid) could get him all the way to August.)