Zack Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, long looked to be a pitcher who was on the surface of breaking out, and for years Giants fans — even in the midst of a three-World-Series-in-five-years run — lamented the fact that San Francisco traded Wheeler for two months of Carlos Beltran in 2011.
However, Wheeler has never fully unlocked the potential that so many expert prospect evaluators thought he had. He was solid over 49 major-league starts in 2013-14, but a rash of injuries during the middle of the decade certainly didn’t help — he missed the entirety of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he was limited to 17 starts in 2017 due to biceps tendinitis and a stress reaction in his pitching arm. After struggling in 2017, he did deliver an extremely encouraging performance in 2018, leading many to believe that we were finally going to see the Wheeler that had been promised for years — over 29 starts, he posted career bests in ERA (3.31) and WHIP (1.12), leading the Mets to believe that they could fill the holes around their three-headed rotation monster of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Wheeler and compete again this year.
Unfortunately for Mets fans, the team isn’t competitive and Wheeler hasn’t been able to rediscover his 2018 form. Over 19 first-half starts, he has a 4.69 ERA and is allowing nearly a hit per inning, though his other peripheral numbers (a career-high 9.8 strikeouts per nine, a solid 1.28 WHIP, and a 2.6 walks-per-nine rate that is virtually equal to what he did last year) indicate that he actually hasn’t been that bad and has simply been punished by the juiced ball like many other starters this year have (he’s already allowed a career-high 16 homers).
With so many contending teams in need of rotation upgrades but the trade market for starting pitchers being extremely underwhelming — particularly for rentals — it seems that teams will be willing to bet on those encouraging peripherals and look to acquire Wheeler, hoping that he can improve his run-prevention results in the second half. According to a report from SNY’s Andy Martino earlier this week, the trade market for Wheeler has already very much begun to develop, with two AL East clubs showing particularly strong interest in the 29-year-old right-hander.
Which team do you think will take a gamble and acquire Wheeler?
Where will the Mets trade Zack Wheeler?
This poll is closed
He’s not getting traded