Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Zack Wheeler, until very recently the forgotten man in the Mets' pitching plans, delivered his second consecutive quality start on Tuesday night, and moved closer to forcing the team to make a tough decision about whether to keep him in the rotation over Matt Harvey.
Wheeler allowed three runs in six innings in the Mets' 5-2 loss to Washington. In both that game and his season debut last week in Miami, the onetime phenom showed consistency with a new, more compact delivery. Manager Mickey Callaway indicated before Tuesday's game that Wheeler's transition to the new mechanics was complete.
An evaluator at Citi Field Tuesday said that Wheeler again repeated the delivery perfectly, though he lacked command of his slider and allowed himself to get beat with his third and fourth-best pitch -- the curveball and changeup.
But overall, reviews of Wheeler's performance since he returned from Triple-A have been positive. He has allowed four runs in 13 innings across two starts.
In a small sample, that is better than Harvey, who has allowed eight runs in 15 innings across three starts.
Jason Vargas, who underwent surgery last month to remove the hamate bone from his non-pitching hand, pitched on Tuesday behind a screen in an intrasquad scrimmage in Port St. Lucie. The team plans to have Vargas pitch in a minor league rehab game Sunday, and then join the rotation after that.
Harvey starts against the Braves in Atlanta on Thursday, and the Mets will be watching closely. Though plenty can happen between now and Vargas' return, it's fair to say that the team is evaluating Harvey and Wheeler, knowing that it might soon be forced to make a decision.
The Mets could also look to trade Wheeler to address their catching shortage, now that he has regained some value. The front office opted to hold onto him for years, and some in the organization later lamented a missed opportunity to move Wheeler when it was still possible to receive a decent return for him.