In his start against the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, Mets RHP Zack Wheeler looked just like his second-half self from 2018.
Wheeler pitched four scoreless innings for New York against a Red Sox lineup filled with everyday players like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts. And he managed to only allow one hit while striking out three in the process.
The outing was so good that Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez made it a point to cut off his postgame interview with reporters, and give him a silent handshake showing his genuine appreciation for what he watched Wheeler do on the hill.
"(Martinez) is one of the best," Wheeler told the Daily News' Deesha Thosar. "I watched him a lot growing up. To get that stamp of approval is pretty cool."
This is the type of outings the Mets hope to see from Wheeler throughout the new year, and it was encouraging to see him make that adjustment after looking shaky in his previous spring outings. Wheeler explained that he fixed his leg kick while watching video from his last starts.
The Red Sox star-studded lineup also helped Wheeler lock in even more in this outing.
"It pumps you up a little bit," Wheeler said. "Gets the juices flowing during spring training which doesn't really happen all that much. It was nice to go out there and face a lot of their main guys and do it well."
Wheeler is going to be leaned on by manager Mickey Callaway this season as that highly-effective third rotation piece that helped the Mets close last season strong. He had an ERA well under two in the second half, and some could argue he was better than Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom during that span as well.
Callaway noted that Wheeler's ability to attack hitters with his hard-throwing arsenal makes him special, and it's already showing down in Florida.
"He has confidence. You see it," Callaway said. "His ability to relax and let the ball go with ease. 97-98 (mph) with great break on it. It's fun to watch. And I'm sure it's fun for him to be able to go out there and know that he just needs to get ready for the season."
And today shows that Wheeler pitching isn't just fun for Callaway and Mets fans to watch, but also respected legends like Martinez.