Wheeler expecting big things from Mets' rotation
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Add Zack Wheeler to the growing list of Mets touting their rotation's potential.
"I think we can be great," Wheeler said on Sunday, returning to camp after a one-day absence due to illness. "We have a lot of young arms, and if we all just put it together, I think we'll be a great staff. I think if everybody stays healthy, we'll be ready to go."
Perhaps more than anyone in the starting five, Wheeler still has room to grow. It seems unlikely that Matt Harvey will exceed his 2013 output, or that Jacob deGrom will improve upon his 2.69 ERA in '14. Both could regress and still be extremely successful pitchers. Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, meanwhile, are veterans with track records suggesting steady outputs.
That leaves Wheeler, a former top prospect who produced a 3.54 ERA over a career-high 185 1/3 innings last year, while striking out more than a batter per inning (9.1 K/9) and shaving his walk rate down to 3.8 per nine. Entering this season with no innings restrictions for the first time, Wheeler could take a significant step forward if he is able to demonstrate better control.
"It was a pretty big adjustment," Wheeler said of his first full year in the league. "It went from guys making adjustments to me ... to me having to make adjustments to them. I think that's really what turned around my second half -- making adjustments to them and [going] from there."