Those hoping for a full rotation turn of the “five aces” will have to wait a little bit longer. The Mets made a decision based on performance and not on name brand, as Zack Wheeler has been sent to the minors to work out his issues, giving a deserving Seth Lugo the final rotation spot.
“[Wheeler] had an opportunity here to make this team, and to be blunt he just didn’t get it done,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “Some guys outpitched him, so he needs to go pitch. We are a better team when Zack Wheeler pitches like Zack Wheeler is capable.”
Props to the Mets for doing what’s right for the team and not what’s right for narrative. With Wheeler spitting the bit this spring, a demotion was really the only option as he’s not really a fit for the bullpen. Wheeler said so himself. Let’s review:
“I’m just here to be a starting pitcher. That’s what I’ve been and that’s what I’m always going to be. When I’m healthy, I know I’m just as good as anybody out there. So that’s what I’m concentrating on.”
Zack is absolutely right. With the Mets having other options, and the Nationals always a threat to run away and hide in the N.L. East, the Mets can’t afford to let Wheeler work out his problems in the Mets’ starting rotation, or even in the bullpen where he’s unfamiliar. So good for them for doing what’s best for the team first, and Wheeler second. But this is what’s best for Zack as well and he knows it.
“You take it kind of hard, just because you are so used to being up here,” Wheeler said. “But it gives me a chance to go down there and fine-tune some things and work on some things that I need to work on to get back up here and be consistent.”
The Mets will need him at some point this season. Of that, there’s no doubt. Wheeler’s best chance to be ready is to get regular starts somewhere. If you subscribe to that sort of thing, there’s also the thought process that maybe this gives Wheeler a “kick in the pants” and motivation to be better. I personally don’t believe that. I don’t see how somebody with that much talent that has had two empty seasons and one lost season wouldn’t be motivated. You can be motivated and still be wild. Wheeler is wild, in the strike zone and out. The minors is where he needs to work that out. Hopefully he will so that the Mets can finally have that one five ace rotation turn*.
*The bullpen will blow three of these wins and the Mets will go 1-4.