New York Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler returned to the mound yesterday after missing just one turn in the Las Vegas 51′s rotation. The soon to be 23-year-old received a cortisone shot early last week to help deal with inflammation in his right shoulder and in his first start back earned a win for the Mets Triple-A affiliate.
While Wheeler may have been shaking off the rust in his return, his fastball yesterday was clocked at 100 mph and sat mostly between 95-97 mph according to an evaluator who watched the performance. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the team seems prepared to promote Wheeler to the major league club after just a few more starts.
The Mets have clearly reached the countdown stage to Zack Wheeler’s major league debut.
A high-ranking team official told The Post on Thursday that barring a setback, the club’s top pitching prospect is expected to make 2-3 more starts for Triple-A Las Vegas and then join the Mets. If Wheeler remains on normal rest, that would put his Mets debut somewhere in the June 6-11 range.
After missing a start last Friday because of soreness in the AC joint in his right shoulder, Wheeler returned to the Las Vegas rotation on Wednesday and allowed three runs over five innings against Iowa.
“If not for the minor setback with the shoulder, he might already be here,” the club official said. “We are at the point where you can say it’s probably two or three more starts [for Las Vegas].”
Plainly put, there’s little to look forward to when the Mets take the field these days. Aside from hoping to catch Matt Harvey toss a gem every time he takes the mound, it’s tough to find a reason to turn on a game let alone stomach a full nine innings. It’s harsh, but for me it’s true and it’s only getting tougher and tougher to find a reason to dedicate time to the Mets. Most of the coverage surrounding the team now centers around how poorly (to put it mildly) Ike Davis is playing. The team’s best hitter of late is a guy that the Houston Astros cut a few weeks back. Players like Duda, Tejada, and Davis have failed to take the next step in their development as most hoped they would in 2013.
Giving fans a glimpse into what appears to be a promising future might be the only way to rejuvenate a beleaguered fan base. That promise starts with Zack Wheeler and like Matt Harvey a year ago, a strong performance from the young hurler at the major league level could overshadow what has proven to be a incredibly trying season, for both players and fans alike.