Coppola: Who is Zack Wheeler?

Zack Wheeler. We have heard about this guy for five years now and know nothing about him.

The Mets traded 34 year old Carlos Beltran to San Francisco, for  the 21 -year old Wheeler on July 11th, 2011. The Giants thought so highly of him, that he was their first pick in the 2009 draft and number 6 overall. With a live fastball ranging from 94 to 97 mph, a nasty 78-80 mph curve, an equally above average sharp slider and nice change with fade and drop, he has the potential to be at the top of the Mets rotation.

Sounds great.  I know, he hasn’t pitched in two years due to Tommy John surgery and a minor flexor strain, but he is for real. Those two years on the disabled list have made us forget about just how good this kid is and I believe he could push Matt Harvey back a few notches in the rotation.

Harvey having struggled with his own medical issues, is still a question mark for me and Wheeler, is about to show us what he can do in a whole season of work as he compiles innings. Young pitchers need innings and the more he pitches, the better he will get.

I like his smooth delivery and command of all his pitches. Will he be an All Star? Well as Bill Parcells once said about a young Tony Romo, “Hold off with the anointing oil guys”. With Wheeler, we will have to see if all this medical technology works. If it does, he will be a very good big league pitcher.

The new medical procedures used today, to keep these young players in the game longer, are not a guarantee that they will be the same prior to the procedure. The names of the type of injuries now are so different from years ago and over the past few years.

I have read, written and spoken about so many medical terms that I probably could pass the test to get into John Hopkins medical college and study reconstructive surgery. Years ago a pitcher had a sore arm and “worked it out”. The players today will have an injury that sounds like something made up for a science fiction movie.

If Wheeler can get through this year and the next without a major injury, and get in 130 or so innings this year, he will be the missing link to a brilliant group of good young Mets arms. If all five arms, Noah Synderggard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and now Wheeler stay healthy, the Mets will be playing exciting and meaningful games in the next few Octobers.

Coming back from Tommy John surgery is no easy task, nor is it a given that he will be the same pitcher who could throw a ball through a brick wall. So who is Zack Wheeler? We will soon find out.

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