Having already lost ace Matt Harvey to a premature arm injury, the New York Mets have precociously shut down budding star pitcher Zack Wheeler for the remainder of the season, Mets manager Terry Collins announced (and the club confirmed via Twitter).
Zack Wheeler will be shut down for the remaining 2013 season. He is healthy. Wheeler finishes the year 7-5 with 3.42 ERA.— New York Mets (@Mets) September 21, 2013
It has been known for some time now that the Mets were looking to limit Wheeler's innings in 2013, and that point has only been further punctuated by Harvey's recent diagnosis of a partially torn UCL that could cause him to miss most or all of the 2014 season. It can be assumed that the Mets will be particularly cautious with Wheeler over the next year or so as they look for him to avoid the same situation that befell Harvey.
Wheeler was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants 6th overall in the 2009 amateur draft out of a Georgia High School. The Mets acquired the 6-foot-4, 185 pound righthander at the 2011 trade deadline in a deal that sent veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran and his expiring contract to San Francisco in exchange for Wheeler. Even at the time of the deal, the trade was widely regarded as a coup for the Mets' organization.
Entering 2013, Wheeler had consistently been rated as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball with Baseball America ranking him as the 35th best prospect in the minors entering 2012, and 11th overall before this season.
Wheeler made his big league debut on June 18th in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves, pitching 6 scoreless innings en route to his first career victory. Since then, Wheeler has been quite solid for a rookie pitcher in the National League, compiling a 3.42 ERA, 1.3 WAR, and a 7.6 K/9 rate in 100 innings over 17 starts for the Mets.
It has been reported that Wheeler felt shoulder stiffness during his start against the Giants on Tuesday night. However, in response, Collins stated the following:
"With what's happened with Matt, it's certainly not the time to take chances right now. So one more start is not going to mean that much. As a matter of fact, he wanted to throw a bullpen today and I said no. So he was fine. He was fine [Friday]. After he got his treatment, he played catch, he said he felt great. Talked to Sandy [Alderson] and we just decided it's not worth it to run him out there for seven more innings."
With the Mets currently sitting 22 games behind the Braves in the NL East, they have already been eliminated from the postseason, meaning the decision to shut down Wheeler is nothing but good for the future of the club.