After surviving the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and a particularly tough home ballpark in Las Vegas with a 3.93 ERA, Zack Wheeler made his major league debut on June 19, 2013, against the Braves.
Wheeler continued to hold his own in his first 17 major league starts. The right-hander pitched himself into and out of trouble in many of his starts, but he also displayed a dominating arsenal in several of his games, like his 12-strikeout performance against the Padres. He posted a 3.42 ERA, but that came with a 4.14 BB/9.
As a rookie, Wheeler's 96 ERA- suggests he was better than league average, but his 116 FIP- and walk rate show that there’s room for improvement. Many expect those numbers to improve, with a ceiling of a number two or even number one starter. But the early projections are a bit pessimistic: Steamer forecasts a 4.12 ERA, 8.15 K/9, and 4.16 BB/9 for Wheeler in 2014.
With Matt Harvey out for 2014, Wheeler probably has the best stuff of any pitcher on the staff, and the Mets will rely on him to turn that into results next year. Wheeler’s rank in the rotation depends on offseason acquisitions, but where he lines up on Opening Day is a formality; the Mets want him to be their second ace to Matt Harvey for many years to come.
Desired 2014 role: number two starter
Expected 2014 role: number three starter