Zack Wheeler has been optioned to AAA Las Vegas, the Mets announced this morning. The right-hander has been mostly ineffective this spring as he competed for the last spot in the Mets’ rotation. This will be the first time that Wheeler has pitched in the minor leagues, other than one A-ball inning in 2016, since he debuted in the summer of 2013.
Coming off of a season cut short by injury, Wheeler had a lot to prove this spring to secure himself a spot in the rotation and, unfortunately, the results just weren’t there. Over the course of ten innings and four starts, Wheeler surrendered nine earned runs and 22 hits. The stint in AAA will hopefully keep Wheeler stretched out, help him get things back under control, and return to the big league rotation. Pitching coach Dave Eiland was very straightforward in his reasoning saying that Wheeler “didn’t get it done” after being given a chance to be the fifth starter. Wheeler himself was accepting of the demotion telling the press “I haven’t done much to help my cause.”
With Wheeler’s trip to AAA, the last spot in the rotation, which was vacated by the injured Jason Vargas, will presumably go to Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman for the time being. This means that the Mets’ dream rotation of Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler has been deferred yet again, this time for performance reasons rather than health.