It's time to give Zach Wheeler a little taste of life in the big leagues.
Wheeler, the 22-year-old prospect acquired by the New York Mets when they shipped Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants in 2011, was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 1, and he may not be far off from earning his first MLB start.
Absolute Domination At Double-A
Wheeler was blowing guys away at the Double-A level, as he utilized a fastball that tops in the high-90s, along with a delicious cut-fastball that clocks in close to the mid-80s, to notch a 10-6 record with a 3.26 ERA.
He looked like a man on a mission during his stint in Binghamton. Wheeled used his strong 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame to strike out 117 batters in 116 innings, and he showed poise in high pressure situations.
With the Mets 11.5 games off the pace of the Washington Nationals for the first-place in the NL East, and eight games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second NL Wild Card spot, the final 50 games of the season will essentially be used as a proving ground to see which prospects belong on the 2013 installment of the roster.
Mets Are Out Of Playoff Contention
Giving Wheeler a couple starts down the stretch will help him shake off the rookie jitters at a time when the fate of the season has already been determined, so it takes a lot of the pressure off him.
He won't have to worry about blowing the team's playoff hopes because the Mets are already out of contention. Wheeler does hang breaking balls at times, and he sometimes loses focus and misses corners, but that's the rookie learning curve that every first-year player must adapt to.
Let's be honest here: Chris Young probably won't be back with the Mets next year. He'll be the odd man out of a rotation that should include Dillon Gee, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Johan Santana and Matt Harvey.
That said, it would be wise for the Mets to give Wheeler a look as a September call-up, and perhaps take a few starts away from Young. Wheeler has all the tools to get guys out at the MLB level. In my view, he's just working on that last little bit of command to take the next step in his development.
Of course, it's all going to come down to Wheeler's first few starts at the Triple-A level to see where he's at at this point in his career. If he keeps rolling, and tallies an ERA below the mid-threes, it would be difficult to keep him off the big league roster when September rolls around.
Should the New York Mets give Zach Wheeler a start in September? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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