While much of the talk surrounds the Mets' much-hyped starting five finally pitching together in the regular season, another bad outing by Zack Wheeler could throw a wrench into those plans.
The NY Post reports that team officials were concerned about Wheeler's last Grapefruit League start last week against the Nationals. The right-hander allowed five runs on seven hits in three innings to hike his ERA this spring to 6.75. Furthermore, Wheeler has yet to go deeper than three innings in any of his four spring appearances.
He will make his fourth start on Thursday night against the Nationals.
According to the Post, should Wheeler endure another rough outing on Thursday, the Mets could turn to Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to fill in until Jason Vargas returns from surgery. As it stands now, both right-handers have a strong shot at being in the club's bullpen on Opening Day, which is only eight days away.
With Vargas sidelined after having the hamate bone removed from his right hand, Wheeler figures to slide into the rotation currently occupied by Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz. Although Vargas is not expected to miss an extended period, his absence gives New York a glimpse of what they envisioned their rotation to look like before injuries struck.
Wheeler returned to the big leagues last season for the first time since 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery the following spring. The 27-year-old went 2-6 with a 5.12 ERA in 15 appearances (12 starts) before a stress fracture in his right arm ended his season in July.