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Legends On Deck

Zack Wheeler’s Long Road Back To The Majors

Zack Wheeler was a flame-throwing right-handed pitcher with enormous potential. Wheeler has endured a long road back to the majors. His desire and determination inspires many to come back from adversity to regain his status as a premiere pitcher as a member of the New York Mets Fab Five.

To see Wheeler’s future you have to view his past and how his journey got him back to the Majors.

Traded to the New York Mets from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran, the Giants needed a veteran slugger for the playoff run. The Mets had their focus on the future.

The Mets knew they had someone special. Selected as a member of the 2009 Rawlings-Perfect Game 1st Team All-American, Wheeler was then drafted by the San Francisco Giants.

The Smyrna, Georgia native is long and lean, with a 6’ 4” frame and a long stride towards the plate that makes batters uneasy.

Wheeler’s record was not impressive at the AAA level posting a combine 6-4 record in Las Vegas. But Met manager Terry Collins was told by Met scouts that Wheeler will pitch better in the Majors than in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

The potential of Wheeler’s pitching would bring him up to the Majors. He was the start of the Met franchise turnaround. His record in the Majors thus far is 18 wins and 17 losses, but he has a solid E.R.A. of 3.61.

Which brings to thought why is he not doing better?

For starters, Wheeler came up as a raw talent that needed polishing. A flame thrower destined for greatness, Wheeler pitched with a lot of stress and torque on the arm.

Sadly, Wheeler’s 2015 Spring Training came to a crashing halt. The ulnar collateral ligament was torn and the diagnosis was he needed Tommy John surgery.

Wheeler missed the 2015 and 2016 season trying to rehabilitate his arm to Major league form. To Wheeler, the process must feel like a person learning to walk again, re-programming the mind to alter his thinking, emotion, and spirit, taking on a task that will take two long lonely years. Only grit and determination can motivate Wheeler to overcome such adversity.

During this time, on Jul 29, 2015, the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers made a trade sending Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler to the Brewers in exchange for Carlos Gomez.

The infamous emotional reaction of Wilmer Flores stood out in the minds of Met fans. But, there was another side to that trade. Zack Wheeler called Sandy Alderson and asked not to be traded. The Mets were heading in the right direction and he wanted to be a part of it of a future championship.

The deal fell through as social media exposed the trade and Sandy Alderson backed out of the deal. Gomez’s medical records were not satisfactory to Alderson’s liking.

Now after two grueling years, Wheeler is back in the fold. Finally, no more lonely days in physical therapy. No more watching games on T.V. while going through his pain-staking trek back to the Majors. He is back in uniform, the white uniform with the blue pinstripes, the name Mets across his chest, and number 45 on his back.

The journey is over. As far as his return from Tommy John surgery goes, his new journey began on April 7, 2017. It was not an impressive outing. However, it was a cold night. Not an ideal evening for a pitcher returning from Tommy John.

He took the loss, losing to the Marlins. He gave up five runs on six hits in four innings.

Wheeler completed his long journey back to the Majors. He is back on the mound for the New York Mets.

Now if Wheeler was able to endure the struggles and fight his way back, I see no reason why Zack Wheeler will excel in 2017 and beyond.

Most Recent Start

April 12, 2017, Wheeler started at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pa

The line score on Wheeler is:
5 2/3 innings
4 hits
3 earned runs
4 strikeouts
1 walk

Wheeler gave up three runs tonight is a little deceiving. Hansel Robles came in relief with the bases loaded and two out. Robles was greeted promptly with a grand slam home run off the bat of Phillie third baseman Maikel Franco. Addison Reed came in in the ninth inning to preserve the win for Wheeler.

Joe Noa

Joe Noa

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Joe is an avid fan of sports. He enjoys engaging in good conversation about topics of interest. He seeks knowledge that is applicable to the betterment and growth of my life and the lives of others. Born and raised in New York, Joe loves watching and rooting for the New York Mets.
Joe Noa