Zack Wheeler was expecting better and showed disappointment in his post-game session with the media but also was happy to get back on the Citi Field mound. Clearly, he had a solid first inning but the biggest area for improvement I saw was in his secondary pitches which he had difficulty commanding as the game wore on.
But that will come—this was a rough night weather-wise for any pitcher to command breaking pitches let alone someone who has not appeared in a regular season game since 2014. Recovering from Tommy John surgery is a process and it is different for every pitcher. That first start was something he has to put behind him and both Terry Collins and Rene Rivera agree that things will get better once he gets some more innings under his belt.
Rivera told me that he thought Wheeler could not change speeds as well as he is capable of on this blustery night and that made his other pitches more hittable. He will work on that before his next start which Rivera and Wheeler feel is definitely something that will get better as the season progresses. This night was an important mental hurdle for Wheeler as there were times his rehab was short circuited with minor setbacks. Getting back on the mound will put his mind at ease as he prepares for his next start in Philly on Wednesday night.
We tend to over-analyze everything these days but tonight was a game he did not have his best stuff and that happens. He threw the ball free and easy and with time the command will be there. Have patience Met fans. And Wheeler will reward that patience.