Zack Wheeler is moving on from the Big Apple to go join the Mets’ rival in Philadelphia. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Phillies have signed Wheeler to a 5 year contract worth $118 million. Wheeler is 29 and has only pitched 750 innings. Wheeler was acquired by the Mets in 2013 for current manager Carlos Beltran, and has pitched his entire major league career for the Mets. The Mets were expected to be in on him, but did not have enough money to retain his services. Despite the Phillies signing the righty; the Mets do receive a compensatory first round pick in the upcoming draft.
With this move happening, it makes the Mets 1 move further away from actually being a championship contender in the upcoming 2020 season. The Mets do have a very talented infield, with home run champion Pete Alonso occupying 1st base, Robinson Cano at second, rising young star Amed Rosario at shortstop and 2019 All-Star Jeff McNeil at 3rd. The Mets also have a young and developing outfield that currently consists of Brandon Nimmo playing center field, Michael Conforto in right field and with J.D Davis in left.
Here is where the Metropolitans now have a problem. The Mets starting rotation had the potential to be the best starting rotation in baseball if they had Wheeler for this upcoming season. With Wheeler gone, the rotation now consists of only 4 pitchers; 2 time Cy-young award winner Jacob deGrom, All- Star Noah Syndergaard, Gold Glove award winner Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz rounding out the bunch. Yes, the Mets rotation is still strong, but there is no way the Mets will be able to compete with only 3 reliable starters – as Matz had a tough 2019 season with a ERA of over 4.
The Mets do have some current members who can fill up the fifth spot, including Seth Lugo, who may have to re-enter the rotation. Though, this seems unlikely after Lugo’s marvelous 2019 season coming out of the bullpen. The Mets did try out Walker Lockett last season but he did not look like a long term starter posting a ERA of over 8 in his first year with the team. The Mets could very likely look to sign a low end starting pitcher to fill the spot, or the Mets could look at the trade market for a guy like Chris Archer. The bullpen also needs to also step up in a big way in order for the Mets to compete for the pennant this season, as both Diaz and Familia had a terrible 2019 campaign.
The Mets need to make some pitching moves immediately before they are too late, as their window to win is now. Without a reliable 4th starter on this current Mets team, the upcoming season will be a waste.
(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)