Do I think Zack Wheeler can be a top notch pitcher in this league? Sure. He has the potential. The question is, will he harness it?
If he does become an elite pitcher, I’m not expecting it to happen this year. What we saw happen last year and thusfar this year with Matt Harvey is something we haven’t seen since Dwight Gooden burst onto the scene in 1984. That was 29 years ago.
It’s unrealistic for lightning to strike twice. Most pitchers, even the best of the best, take awhile to get to the elite status.
Clayton Kershaw went 5-5 with an ERA of 4.26 in 21 starts in 2008.
Cliff Lee had an ERA of 5.26 in his first full season in the majors in 2004.
James Shields went 6-8 with a 4.84 ERA in 21 starts in his 2006 rookie campaign.
King Felix Hernandez had a 4.52 ERA in 31 starts in his first full season in 2006.
Jordan Zimmerman went 3-5 with a 4.93 ERA in 16 starts in 2009.
Greg Maddux went 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA in his first full season in 1987.
I could go on, but you get the point.
At this stage of his career, we can’t expect Wheeler to be the next coming of Matt Harvey. It’s unrealistic. It’s unfair. And if he performs as just a 4th of 5th starter for the remainder of this year, getting on the kid’s case isn’t going to help matters. It’s just a way to run him out of town and watch him eventually beat us down the stretch for a future playoff spot.
So everyone relax about Zack Wheeler. We’re not winning this season, anyway. Let him get his feet wet. Let him learn the ropes. Let him figure out what he has to do to succeed at this level so we’ll have him when it counts.