Zack Wheeler has been one of baseball's hottest starting pitchers the past two-and-a-half months. No wonder the New York Mets are getting a lot of bites on their hard-throwing right-hander of late.The 28-year-old stayed hot Sunday by holding the Pirates scoreless over six innings, while allowing only five hits and
Zack Wheeler has been one of baseball's hottest starting pitchers the past two-and-a-half months. No wonder the New York Mets are getting a lot of bites on their hard-throwing right-hander of late.
The 28-year-old stayed hot Sunday by holding the Pirates scoreless over six innings, while allowing only five hits and one walk against seven strikeouts to lead the Mets to a 1-0 win -- the kind of start that gets even more attention this time of year, as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand writes.
That latest strong effort continued what has been one of the best extended stretches of Wheeler's career. Since his ERA spiked to a season-high 5.92 on May 16, Wheeler's stats look like this over his past 13 starts: 3.28 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.5 K/9. He's also thrown at least six innings in 11 of those outings, holding high-90s heat into the later frames and showing he can handle a starter's workload.
Of course, Wheeler does come with a long injury history, having missed all of 2015 and '16 after Tommy John surgery and throwing just 86 1/3 frames last year while battling more right arm issues. That said, with a $1.9 million salary this season and another season of club control after this year, Wheeler brings plenty of appeal as a cost-efficient arm capable of helping both this year and next.
In fact, Wheeler just might be the best available starting pitcher in this (admittedly underwhelming) market, as MLB.com's Mike Petriello highlighted recently.
Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline is looming, so stick right here to get the latest on Wheeler.
• While at least a half-dozen clubs have been linked to Wheeler, the Braves, Brewers, Phillies and Yankees are among the teams to express the most interest, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Monday.
Each of those teams is contending this year, but the Braves, Brewers and Phillies, in particular, have acknowledged that their preference is not to part with premium prospects for rental players. Hence, their interest in Wheeler.
• While the Mets already have dealt impending free agents Asdrubal Cabrera and Jeurys Familia, they do not have to move Wheeler this year. Given his age, stuff and recent performance, MLB Network Radio host -- and former Mets general manager Steve Phillips -- argued Monday morning that the club might be better off keeping Wheeler.
That might be the best approach if the Mets plan to retool for 2019 rather than embark on a longer-term rebuilding process.
• Buster Olney of ESPN posits a similar thought, reporting Monday afternoon that the Mets "intend to contend next year" with their rotation fronted by Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard -- and Wheeler looking like a part of that.
• "I don't think it's a done deal that [the Mets] move Wheeler," one National League talent evaluator told Feinsand on Sunday. "They need to receive appropriate value for him. He's a guy peaking in his career and under control at a reasonable salary."
• Heyman pointed out Saturday that the chances of a Wheeler trade looked "iffy" because there's a gap between how the Mets are valuing him and how suitors are.
• Andy Martino of SNY, who reported in the middle of last week that Wheeler could be traded "any time now," wrote over the weekend that the Mets were getting more interest in the righty than any other player since Carlos Beltran in 2011 -- when the veteran outfielder was traded to San Francisco for, of all people, Wheeler, who was among the sport's top prospects at the time.
Jason Catania is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayCat11.