NY Sports Day
Anthony Rushing

Rushing: Mets Should Shut Zack Wheeler Down For 2016

Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire

Zack Wheeler suffered another setback in his injury rehab and he was hoping to return to the Mets starting rotation this season.

Wheeler’s been pitching in rehab games, however the elbow discomfort, he was feeling during the process, was enough for the Mets to send him for an examination by the well-known Dr. James Andrews.

The Mets have announced Wheeler’s been diagnosed with a flexor muscle strain and will be shut down for at least two weeks.

Wheeler was hoping to return to the Mets starting rotation this season, after having Tommy John surgery in 2015. The team confirmed that the ulnar collateral ligament, Wheeler had replaced in the surgery. It was okay.

This latest setback should be enough, however, for the Mets to end his hopes of returning this season.

One look at the calendar and the odds of Wheeler having enough time to put more rehab work in, just for a chance to return and make a major league start, are slim to none.

Make no mistake about it; shutting down Wheeler’s 2016 comeback attempt is the right move to make here by the Mets.

Pitchers Matt Harvey and Steven Matz much like Wheeler, are key components to the Mets young and talented starting rotation, they both have also had Tommy John surgery.

Tommy John surgery isn’t anything to mess around with. This is a ligament replacement procedure we’re talking about. If any team knows how true this is, it would be the Mets.

Wheeler’s also had multiple setbacks this season. He’s had to have sutures, from the original procedure, surgically removed. It wasn’t long afterwards where Wheeler had to deal with nerve inflammation issues.

It would be two full seasons of missed time that Wheeler is looking at, he hasn’t pitched since 2014.

“You’ve got to certainly prepare for yourself for the fact that he might be one of those guys that just for some reason doesn’t bounce back like you hope,” said Mets manager Terry Collins to reporters in Phoenix.

Some pitchers don’t fully recover from a surgery of this magnitude in the 12-18 month timeline, we’ve seen some accomplish. Wheeler’s case is another example of how everyone’s body doesn’t react or respond the same, even if you’re a professional athlete.

The best-case scenario for Wheeler and the Mets is patience.

If you’re the Mets, at this stage of the season, it’s not worth the risk of fast-tracking what’s obviously been a slow-healing process for a 26-year old pitcher, especially with the potential of Wheeler.

The Mets could use another arm in the starting rotation for the remainder of the season. They’re still scrapping for playoff spot in the still wide-open National League wild card race.

Matz and Noah Syndergaard are pitching through issues with bone spurs in their elbows. Jacob deGrom has assumed the ‘ace’ role in recent starts, and Bartolo Colon is giving everything his 43-year old arm has left.

Matt Harvey’s presence in the rotation has been missed, however Wheeler’s not going to be the short-term solution, nor should he be.

The last thing the Mets need is to bring Wheeler back, in the middle of a playoff race, most likely on a pitch count, and have another setback for the youngster.

Wheeler’s time will come again. It just should no longer be this year.


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