Look, nobody knows what Zack Wheeler’s major league career will be. He could flop, get injured, manage to find stardom immediately, or gradually.
This isn’t some premature promotion by the Mets, a Ruben Tejada or Carlos Gomez up too soon to fill a major league vacancy. Truth is, they don’t even have a starter vacancy, not with Dillon Gee pitching well, Jeremy Hefner holding his own, and Shaun Marcum the best 0-8 pitcher in the major leagues. (It’s more impressive than it sounds.)
Nor is it necessary to extrapolate from this some magical era ahead for the Mets. Wheeler is a starting pitcher. He isn’t an outfielder, of which the Mets need three, or a shortstop, or a first baseman (though Lucas Duda may well be that), nor a full season of health for Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. He cannot save the Mets.
But one year after this farm system graduated Matt Harvey, the Mets are bringing Wheeler, a Met thanks to a trade made of financial necessity and system-wide reality-the Mets weren’t re-signing Carlos Beltran, nor were they in a position where they should have-up to join the big club. The full development of a pitching prospect, rather than simply rushing him, Mike Pelfrey-style, to the major leagues to sink or swim with a single pitch, is a welcome development.
So enjoy him. Don’t expect another Matt Harvey immediately, or perhaps at all. This is no slight of Wheeler. Seriously. Look at where Harvey ranks among pitchers, ever, in ERA+ over their first two MLB seasons. It would be unfair to expect that of any pitcher.
But there’s reason for optimism. He’s the something new and shiny the Mets will unveil this year. Get ready to enjoy him. And appreciate that the farm system developed him, got him ready, and he’ll sink or swim, stay healthy or break down, like any pitcher, but with the best possible chances for success.
This is a victory, before Zack Wheeler throws a pitch.