In his start Thursday against the Nationals, Mets RHP Zack Wheeler pitched 2 1/3 innings, during which he allowed two runs and three hits, walked one and struck out two of 11 batters.
"I'm ready to move on and pitch with these guys during the season," said Wheeler, who will be limited to throwing roughly 125 innings this season.
Wheeler hasn't pitched in the majors since 2014. He had Tommy John surgery in early 2015, and suffered multiple setbacks during his rehab last summer. As a result, the Mets have reportedly discussed the possibility of having Wheeler start the season in the bullpen, which would enable him to transition to the rotation later in the season, while also conserving innings.
Nevertheless, despite two starts, Wheeler said he feels physically ready to start 2017 as a starting pitcher, though he is glad to have more time in camp to improve the command of his fastball.
"I'm not as sharp as I could be around the plate," explained Wheeler, whose fastball reached 97 mph Thursday. "My fastball just needs some fine tuning."
At this point, I'm not sure where Wheeler will begin 2017. I was pretty convinced in late-February, when I was in camp, that Wheeler would start the season in extended spring training in St. Lucie, with Robert Gsellman joining the rotation and Seth Lugo helping out in the bullpen. However, given how strong Wheeler has been, and given recent concerns expressed about Matt Harvey, I'm starting to wonder if the team will leave Harvey behind and instead take Wheeler north...
There is a lot of time for this to play out, and there are certainly more than just two possible outcomes, so I'm not going to predict where we end up. However, I do think it's fair to say that the back of the rotation remains very much up in the air, despite what people in the organization were saying less than a month ago...