Mancuso: Wheeler Could Lead To Prospects

Late Friday afternoon at Citi Field, Sandy Alderson said  prior to a Mets 5-2 loss against the Dodgers that his team needed wins. And the reference to needing wins would determine if this GM would be active at the non-waiver trading deadline

Well here is your answer Sandy, and it is obvious. The Mets have to be sellers as they fall deeper into this hole and have that minimal chance of playing a role in pennant chasing baseball. With more than half a season remaining the results Friday night almost cemented a thought about the Mets being sellers and not buyers.

And forget about this GM dealing Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard. Alderson made the point that dealing one or the other would require obtaining 20 good prospects. Regardless, this GM has decisions to make, perhaps about his future. And with the inevitable task of rebuilding the Mets, Sandy Alderson may not be the one to do that.

Remember the trading deadline last year? Gone were Jay Bruce,  Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson. Of course Bruce returned with a three-year contract and not like Aroldis Chapman and his return across town, Bruce has struggled and on the disabled list.

The Mets got pitching in return, prospects as Alderson said, but where are they and certainly this does not compare to his counterpart in the Bronx who made his team younger and more athletic. There is no debating that Brian Cashman put a rebuilding Yankees team back into prominence  sooner than expected.

We get to see one of those prospects from the Duda deal and soon. Right-hander Drew Smith, 24 years old, obtained from Tampa Bay in the Duda deal, was 4-1 with three saves and a 2.88 ERA in 23 combined games with Binghamton of Double-A and and Triple-A Las Vegas.

So with that, and with Zach Wheeler on the mound Friday night, he could be a trading tool and for the proper prospects that can begin to make an impact. Wheeler, despite a 2-6 record and 4.56 ERA, overall has not pitched bad and completed six or more innings in 10 of his last 14 starts.

But the downside, Wheeler is 0-5 in 10 starts since his last win April 20th against the San Diego Padres and that would prevent an opposing GM from making a deal.

And if the Mets, with this anemic offense, that sometimes seems to revive, gave Wheeler more run support, maybe the record would look different. But the same holds true for Jacob deGrom, the Major League leader in ERA and the Mets would be fools to deal him away even for the proper prospects.  

Wheeler used a split change, and for the most part the effective fastball. Though throwing a season high -tying 7.0 innings and 114 pitches, most since 2014, it was the fastball that led to a Cody Bellinger grand slam home run in the sixth inning that broke a scoreless tie.

“Just that one pitch,” said Wheeler.”  And one pitch can make a difference, and if it means anything, manager Mickey Callaway has been pushing his starters to throw the right pitch on the 0-2 count. Bellinger hit for the Grand Slam to right field that broke a scoreless tie and Wheeler went with the two-seam fastball.

And from there, as has been more too often, the bullpen gave up another home run ball. Yasiel Puig hit his ninth home run, a solo shot in the ninth inning off Chris Beck. Of course the Mets offense at home went silent again with exception of Jose Bautista with a 2–for-4 night. His third home run of the season accounted for two runs, his first as a Met,

So where is the optimism for the Mets after coming home from a 3-7 road trip, 4-16 in their last 20 games and 6-21 in their last 27? It could be how Zack Wheeler kept his team in the game and before that grand slam.

As one scout said earlier in the evening, and when asked about the possible value Wheeler could provide as a front line starter, “There is always concern. But he has developed that nice split and will give you innings.”

So what is definitely heading to another losing season could turn to prospects at that end of July trading deadline. Mets fans, as Callaway said, “deserve more wins.”  That can begin with trading Wheeler for the proper prospects.

A long process , perhaps it will be. But for the Mets, their fans, and the future a process that can lead to better results than the one that was seen again Friday night.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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