Thursday night, pitching phenom Kevin Gausman made his major league debut for the Baltimore Orioles. The future is bright for Gausman, who throws a plus-plus fastball, mixes his secondary pitches well, and was rated the 26th-best prospect in baseball, per Baseball America, entering the season. His performance since those ratings came out elevated him further.
Thursday night, struggling Orioles starter Kevin Gausman lasted only five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks. He threw 89 pitches to last those five innings, and left the game trailing, 4-3. His ERA is 7.20.
These two paragraphs are compatible. In fact, the second is likely, despite the first.
But why should you care? This isn’t the LoHud Orioles Blog, after all.
Simple: Zack Wheeler should be here soon. And it is important to temper expectations when he gets here.
Wheeler won’t just be a pitching prospect when he arrives. For a Mets’ rotation that needs a ton of help, and right now, he’s really their only chance at that help, unless you think Jenrry Mejia is ready to come in and pitch well, or you like Collin McHugh more than the Mets, who chose Aaron Laffey over McHugh, obviously do.
In addition, Wheeler has been constantly talked about in the same sentence as Matt Harvey. And expecting anyone to come up and immediately dominate, as Harvey has, is really unfair. Essentially, no one does that. It doesn’t mean Wheeler won’t develop into an elite pitcher, though that is anything but certain, either (pitching prospects are fickle creatures). But the chances he is another Harvey right away are microscopic.
And I’m worried the twin burdens of needing to “rescue the Mets” and pitching in the shadow of Harvey will mean Wheeler gets booed off the mound if he goes through the struggles almost every other pitching prospect goes through.
Be patient, Mets fans. Wheeler Day is almost here. That will be exciting. But don’t assume it is just another Harvey Day.