As Matt Harvey’s season ends due to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Zack Wheeler is working his way back towards rejoining the Mets’ rotation. As the New York Post reported yesterday, Wheeler is now looking towards a return date somewhere in mid-to-late August.
Wheeler, who underwent Tommy John surgery early last year, had previously been on track to return after the All-Star break. Unfortunately, a pair of setbacks in April and June have delayed Wheeler’s return by at least a month.
If Wheeler can pick up where he left off, he could be a major help for a Mets rotation that currently lacks a fifth starter. In the second half of 2014, he put up a 3.04 ERA and struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings. When he went down in spring training of 2015, he was in consideration to be the Opening Day starter over Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom—and the the honor later went to Bartolo Colon.
With Harvey on the shelf for the rest of the season, Logan Verrett figures to be the club’s fifth starter for now. Verrett has shown flashes of potential as a bullpen piece/spot starter, but his 4.34 ERA this season is not comforting, and a 5.44 FIP suggests that regression may not swing in his favor. A sooner-rather-than-later return by Wheeler could be a major boost for a team looking to make an impact down the stretch.