Mancuso: Wheeler Value And What It Means

Was this the last of Zack Wheeler at Citi Field Friday night? Noah Syndergaard may or may not have thrown his last pitches in Flushing Wednesday night. Then there is Jason Vargas who starts the finale of a three game series against the Pirates Sunday afternoon.

Three names and all associated as trade targets with the July 31 trade deadline approaching. Of the three, it can be assumed in their walk-off years, Vargas or Wheeler will go to a contender that needs pitching. Then again, Syndergaard and Wheeler are also good targets and were the continued subject of trade talk.

Scouts are everywhere at the ballpark. They have been busy looking at every pitch. Wheeler could be on the clock and his first start off the injured list Friday night only added to his trade value.

He was effective and that’s all the scouts wanted to see. Wheeler struck out seven Pittsburgh Pirates, allowed six runs, three earned, in 5.1 innings, Wheeler showed no signs of an issue with his right shoulder. 

The Mets got six hits and four were home runs from Jeff McNeil, Todd Frazier,Pete Alonso, and Wilson Ramos.. Wheeler got the win. Are his bags packed as he claims and were those the last pitches  Zack Wheeler threw on a mound as a Met at Citi Field? 

“I hope he continues to grow here,” Manager Mickey Callaway said after the Mets 6-3 win. “He has been a hell of a pitcher for us. I hope he continues to be. He is valuable to our team.”

And then Callaway said, Wheeler has been good for the Mets over the years.  Terry Collins, of course, he was the one who always viewed Zack Wheeler as the pitcher who had the best curve. Next to Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, it was Zack Wheeler.

So here we go again. Instead it is about Wheeler, Syndergaard, and Vargas. Last July the talk was similar about Jacob deGrom. And if the Mets are serious about selling a pitcher the reality is either Wheeler or Vargas will go. 

Noah Syndergaard, unless the Mets get blown away with an enticing offer, has many more starts coming as a New York Met.

And a reliable source said Friday night that the Mets will do something, but they could do nothing. It’s more likely, that Zack Wheeler could be the one and the Mets in return obtain prospects. Truth is, as always is this time of year, teams are looking for pitching. 

The trade talk was not a concern for Wheeler. He said, as all players do at this time of year that this is a normal part of the business. But there was a moment when he thought about the trade talk.

“I appreciate that from the fans,” Wheeler said about the fans who cheered when he came off the mound. “That’s the only time I really thought, it because I was out there concentrating on winning a ballgame.

And Wheeler went out there and gave the Mets innings. His curve was sharp as was the fastball. The win kept faint postseason hopes for the Mets even though it will require a great comeback to see October.  The scouts definitely got what they wanted to see from Zack Wheeler.

It’s simple here. The rumors don’t stop until that trade deadline is over. Remember also, after July 31, there are no waiver deals in August. You make the trade now or you reach down in  your system to obtain the additional help.

So this will come down to the deadline and scouts from the Yankees, Braves, Astros, Twins, Rays, and Brewers were there this week and Friday night. They huddle and basically keep to themselves as they log every pitch and submit their reports to club executives.

Wheeler, his 7-6 record and ERA of 4.71 can provide the spark to any rotation. If the Mets keep the right-hander they go with the option of re-signing or let him chase free agency. He is reliable but known to be inconsistent.

But his value increased Friday night. 

“You just try to stay locked in,” Wheeler said. “I’ve been through it before. It’s just noise at this point. You just have to stay locked in. If you don’t, you’re going to go out there and do crappy.”

“A guy like him is hard to replace,” Callaway said.  

And so it goes.  Wheeler said his bags are packed at home. The only presence of GM Brodie Van Wegenen are those Dunkin Donuts he leaves for the media in the press box with the message saying, “Have a Good Series.” You won’t find the GM often now as he is busy on the phones.

But the message here is the Mets could sell Zack Wheeler. It could be Noah Syndergaard or Jason Vargas, Todd Frazier, or Dominic Smith.

Whoever, whatever. But remember that pitching is a commodity that is needed. If one goes the Mets hopefully will get a good package in return.

Comment: [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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