Disclaimer: Zack Wheeler is just 23 years old and made only his sixth MLB start today. Criticism of his performance should not be equated with condemnation of his future prospects.
Zack Wheeler has now made two starts at Citi Field, and he could not make it out of the fifth inning in either one. His start today was not a disaster, but it was far from impressive. He needed 106 pitches to make it through just 4.2 innings and was pulled with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. In each of those five innings, Wheeler allowed at least one baserunner. Despite walking only two batters, Wheeler's control was not sharp; he hit a batter, threw just 58 strikes out of 106 pitches, and threw a first-pitch strike to just 10 of the 23 batters he faced. Of the 26 off-speed pitches he threw, eight went for strikes. So while anyone who says "Wheeler = Pelfrey" is either trolling or jumping the gun in a big way, I can somewhat understand why today's game elicited such a quick-trigger comparison. It's tough to be successful while throwing fastballs nearly 80% of the time.
Still, there were a few positives for Wheeler today. His velocity was strong, as usual, and 10 of the 80 fastballs he threw went for swinging strikes. He battled in tough spots; he sent the Phillies down quietly in the first inning following Jimmy Rollins' leadoff home run, and he worked out of trouble in the second-through-fourth innings. Again, Wheeler is young, etc., but today was not an encouraging performance.
The Mets' offense supported Wheeler early, scoring three runs off Cole Hamels in the first inning after Rollins' homer. Marlon Byrd and Juan Lagares notched RBI singles, and Anthony Recker recorded an RBI fielder's choice to give the Mets a 3-1 lead. Byrd continues to astound; his slugging percentage is among the top 10 in the league. Not bad for a guy who, according to Wikipedia, might have had one of his legs amputated in college.
Mets relief pitcher Gonzalez Germen might have been the hero of the day. He came on in relief of Wheeler in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, two outs, and out-of-shape-looking Delmon Young at the plate. Young isn't exactly a world-beater, but he's an average major-league hitter, and Germen struck him out in one of the biggest moments of the game. Germen remained in the game after his big strikeout, finishing with 1.2 scoreless innings pitched. Good for him. Scott Rice and and LaTroy Hawkins combined to follow with 1.2 innings of clean relief before giving way to Bobby Parnell in the ninth inning.
Parnell entered the ninth with a 5-2 lead, thanks to RBI singles from David Wright and Daniel Murphy in the fifth and seventh innings, respectively. The former Captain Fastball recorded the first two outs of the frame without much drama. Unfortunately, Josh Satin then made an error to extend the game, which looked something like this:
No one would have much cared about the error, except Chase Utley followed it with a home run to make the score 5-4. It was the first home run allowed by Parnell since early last August, which is pretty remarkable. Domonic Brown followed with a double, which increased Mets fan grumbling until Darin Ruf lined out to second base to end it. The Mets managed a few more hits with runners in scoring position than the Phillies. That's largely what decided the game.
It's always fun to beat Hamels and the Phillies, even though the incorrigible Shane Victorino is no longer a part of the Philth. A series win would be fun. Matt Harvey faces Cliff Lee Sunday afternoon on Dwight Gooden bobblehead day.
Apropos of nothing except the "WIN 5-4" picture above, here is a short highlight reel of Rey Ordonez's defense:
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Gonzalez Germen +16.0%, Juan Lagares +11.0%
Big losers: Zack Wheeler -7.8% (as pitcher), Omar Quintanilla -4.0%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Delmon Young strikeout in the fifth inning, +10.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Michael Young walk to load the bases in the fifth inning, -11.1%
Total pitcher WPA: +21.7%
Total batter WPA: +28.3%
GWRBI!: Daniel Murphy RBI single in the seventh inning