With the addition of Jason Vargas crowding @Mets’ rotation further, Zack Wheeler is expected to start the season out of the bullpen: source https://t.co/JT1fmzC46A - @Ackert_NYDN pic.twitter.com/3hn6w7DPpy— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) February 20, 2018
I don't doubt Ackert's reporting. As it stands right now, I believe Wheeler is on the outside of the rotation looking in. But I also think this isn't quite set in stone.
Mickey Callaway has tried to make it clear that the Mets are a meritocracy. You will be given the chance to earn an opportunity, but nothing will be handed out just simply for showing up. That should be music to a player like Wheeler's ears, especially after injuries have left his last three seasons in tatters.
I'm not going to blame Zack for a raw human reaction, which is exactly what we heard when he was initially put off by the fact that the Mets signed Jason Vargas. He's a professional athlete who had supreme confidence in his ability. He's supposed to think he can succeed. If he didn't, he wouldn't be in the Bigs.
“I shouldn’t have been short about it,” Wheeler told The NY Post of his bristly comments about wanting to be a starter. “Anybody who comes and helps out our team is always a plus, especially with Jason. He has a lot of experience, playoff experience and more competition only makes us better, so I’m all for it. Especially anything that is going to help out the team in any particular way.”
I think Wheeler does realize that it makes perfect sense that he doesn't have an inside track on a starting spot right now. He hasn't earned one yet. But that doesn't mean he can't or won't.
This isn't to pick on Wheeler. Matt Harvey and Steven Matz are largely in the same spot. Their last two seasons haven't instilled confidence in anyone. So while it may look like Matz may have an inside track at the rotation via the simple act of being born left handed (or Harvey for simply being Harvey), that's not necessarily the case.
If I was a gambling man, I'd bet Wheeler does get a taste of the bullpen, but that doesn't mean its predetermined for him. If Wheeler out-pitches Harvey or Matz, he's going to be one of the five starters when the team breaks camp. It all starts this Friday, when Wheeler will get the nod in the Mets' Spring Training opener on Friday in Port St. Lucie against the Braves. So want to change their minds, Zack? Time to take a big first step.
Photo credits: Getty Images
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If you're hitting the final home game on Thursday at Citi Field, swing by the Marina Lot to see some friends, maybe meet some new ones, and responsibly wash down your sorrows before heading inside.