Here’s what the New York Mets can make of Zack Wheeler: He still has a lot of work to do. Wheeler tripped Tuesday night, but I’m inclined to agree with Ron Darling in that it was the Mets who stuck their foot out.
Darling, who has forgotten more pitching than most of us will ever know, said the Mets might have done Wheeler a disservice by having him go away from his fastball, which can be overpowering, and throw more of his slider.
Wheeler hasn’t refined his secondary pitches and pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters last night the Mets’ prized rookie was tipping his pitches by having a different arm angle for his breaking balls.
Wheeler said he was “bad,’’ after he gave up four runs on four hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. Surprisingly, Wheeler struck out one, but you’d think with a 95-mph. plus-fastball he would have had more. He would have had he mixed in more fastballs among his 109 pitches.
Wheeler is clearly not as far along and polished as Matt Harvey was last year at this time. He is more advanced with his fastball than his breaking balls, and that’s the pitch he should have used more often, if for no other reason it was an interleague game.
Seriously, when will Wheeler see the White Sox again? Just throw the fastball until they prove they can hit it.
Throwing unrefined breaking balls is even more risky when behind in the count, and of the 24 batters he faced, he threw only 11 first-pitch strikes.
Wheeler said he was bad. He might over stated things a bit, because the Mets have shown us a lot worse this year. Speaking of which, today is Shaun Marcum Day.
It wasn’t as if the White Sox knocked him around the park, but they were usually ahead in the count and generally had comfortable at-bats.
Unless Wheeler goes into a dive, the plan is for him to be here, and learn on the fly. That’s not the best way as the Mets have rushed him. By Wheeler’s own admission he wasn’t ready, but he’s not going to say, “no, I’ll stay in Vegas.’’ After all, there are only so many $3.99 all-you-can-eat buffets one you can enjoy.
So, as long as he’s here let him throw his fastball, then mix in a curve and go with the slider as his third pitch.
By all accounts, Wheeler is ahead of Mike Pelfrey when he first came up, and that includes his secondary pitches. Pelfrey became ineffective because he didn’t have command of his secondary pitches and hitters sat on his fastball.
Ideally, the Mets should turn Wheeler loose with his fastball and work in the other pitches gradually. Let him throw the pitch he has the most confidence in and go from there.
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