To call Zack Wheeler’s start last night the best of the season, despite taking a loss and giving up a grand slam to—you guessed it—Daniel Murphy, may seem like a back-handed compliment. But even with that first inning mistake on the box score, Wheeler pitched pretty well last night, and it could be a good sign of things to come for the right-hander.
Wheeler threw 101 pitches over seven innings, and he walked two walking and struck out six. Neither of his walks came back to hurt him, and one was quickly erased on a double play. All of Wheeler’s strikeouts came in the first four innings but included fanning both Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper. For a pitcher that sometimes can’t go deep into games due to a high pitch count, Wheeler settled in nicely and got a number of quick outs to allow a seven inning stay.
After giving up the grand slam, Wheeler allowed just one more hit, a single by Ryan Zimmerman in the third. That grand slam, which was made possible by a controversial hit-by-pitch to start off the game, as well as back-to-back singles, was more a testament to Murphy’s uncanny ability to punish the Mets than it was a poor pitch by Wheeler. He said in his post-game comments that the pitch wasn’t inside enough, and while that may be, it wasn’t exactly a meatball, either.
The start was by far Wheeler’s longest of the season, topping his five-and-two-thirds innings against the Phillies, and was only one strikeout away from his season best of seven. While the results may not have been ideal, Wheeler’s start was a rare bright spot in the slog of a weekend that was the series against the Nationals.