There certainly wasn't an edge to his tone, but Zack Wheeler was quite clear about his intentions as they relate to the Mets. Speaking with Kevin Kernan of the Post last week, New York's young flame-thrower minced no words when asked where he wanted to be and what he expects from owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon as the team moves forward.
"I want to stay here. I don’t want to be traded. We’re only going to get better when the guys we got here get more experience and spend a little bit of money, making trades, get some better bats and stuff. How could you not spend money? You’re in New York. I know the Wilpons. I’ve been around them awhile now. I know they want to win. It’s just a matter of putting the right pieces together, formulating it all and making a winner.’’
Wheeler is certainly doing his part. After sporting a 4.45 ERA and just three wins through 16 starts, the light has seemingly turned on for the 24-year-old, who now looks more and more like the top-line pitcher he was predicted to be. Since allowing five earned runs to the Athletics in a June 25 loss that dropped his record to 3-8, Wheeler has gone 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 75 innings over 12 starts. His ERA of 3.45 is in line with both his FIP (3.60) and xFIP (3.51), and he's averaging a shade under a strikeout per inning (8.93) with 163 whiffs in 164 frames.
One area that continues to plague Wheeler is walks, with an average of 3.83 per nine innings. However, he is once again benefiting from an exceptional ability to strand runners, keeping 81.6% of baserunners from scoring in his last 12 starts and 74.7% on the season. Wheeler can sense the improvement in his performance that the statistics bear out.
"I had to make the adjustment that the hitters made to me, I had to make a re-adjustment to them. That was sort of eye-opening to me. I belong here because I can make those types of adjustments.’’
As for Wheeler's desire to remain in New York, he is often mentioned in trade rumors for an impact bat New York desperately needs. If it were up to him, though, he is right where he wants to be.
"I was part of the rebuilding process and I want to see it through.’’
The Mets will more than likely grant him his wish.