Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are Signs of Hope in New York

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Sam Evans: It has been over a decade since the New York Mets ranked in the top five in the majors in Fielding Independent Pitching. Last year, the Mets had roughly league-average production from their pitching staff and it led to a 74-88 finish. With Citi Field being a pitcher’s park, the Mets are going to need a lot more from their pitching staff in order to be a successful ballclub. Luckily, New York is breeding two very talented young pitchers, both of whom could start for the Mets next season. Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey should provide hope and confidence to the Mets and their fans.

Zack Wheeler is a twenty-two year old right-handed starting pitcher who has yet to pitch in the majors. Wheeler was drafted out of a Georgia high school in the 2009 MLB Amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants. Standing 6’4’’, Wheeler throws a fastball that can reach up to 95 MPH. His arsenal also includes a plus curveball, a changeup and a cutter. Wheeler came over from the Giants organization in the Carlos Beltran trade after one and a half years in the lower minors. In 2012, his first full season with the Mets, Wheeler split time between Double-A and Triple-A.

Looking back at it, trading Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler worked out perfectly for the Mets. New York was not in contention that season, so a player like Beltran wasn’t much of a difference maker. The Mets needed to rebuild their minor league system and adding a player like Wheeler was huge.

It’s not crazy to think that Wheeler could be a #2 starter down the road. He has always had all the potential to do this, he just needs to be more consistent. A lot of people around baseball will be fairly surprised if Wheeler doesn’t start the next season in the Mets rotation. There should be no doubt that it will take time for Wheeler to reach his potential, but the Mets can afford to wait on that kind of special talent.

Matt Harvey is the other pitcher that appears to be ready to lead the Mets. Harvey is a year older than Wheeler and about forty pounds heavier as well. Harvey’s fastball touches 96, but his best pitch is definitely his slider. He throws his slider about one every five pitches and its nasty dip and bite make it almost impossible for hitters to touch. If Harvey can develop his changeup, he too could become a #2 starting pitcher in the majors for a long time. With the great bloodlines (father Bryan Harvey was a successful MLB pitcher in his day), Matt has a bright career ahead of him.

After less than two full seasons in the minors, Harvey reached the big city. His results in his rookie season were startling. In his major league debut, Harvey struck out eleven Arizona hitters and pitched 5+ scoreless innings. Harvey pitched in ten games on the season, striking out 10.62 batters every nine inning, controlling his walks, leading to a 2.73 overall ERA. That’s the kind of string of performances that Harvey and Wheeler are going to make the rest of the N.L. East get used to, whether they like it or not.

Hope is defined by Merriam-Webster as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment”. The Mets franchise and fanbase definitely have desire. At this point the organization lacks belief in fulfillment, with their history of losing providing plenty of fuel for the fire. However, the Mets have always expected success. If Wheeler and Harvey can each reach their individual potential, then the Mets will have plenty of reason for hope, belief and expectations in 2013…and beyond. 

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***

 

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on November 4, 2012, in On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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