Phillies: 3 reasonable expectations for Zack Wheeler
Wheeler Might Miss Some Time
Despite showcasing some serious talent when on the mound, a common struggle for Wheeler in the past has been the actual physical task of staying on the mound. Wheeler missed the entirety of both the 2015 and 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery, and has visited the 10-day diabled list a few times since due to various minor injuries.
Wheeler is now five full years removed from his nasty elbow injury of 2015, and this likely isn’t causing him problems anymore. He pitched a career-high 195.1 innings in 2019 and has averaged 30 starts a season over the last two years. Wheeler looked more than comfortable seeing his fastball top out in the low 100s, as he set a career high in strikeouts last season as well.
Despite Wheeler’s apparent stable health the last two years, anytime a pitcher is consistently throwing a fastball in the triple-digits, nagging injuries are likely to pop up. The human body simply isn’t designed to be flinging an object that hard, for so many repetitions in a row.
Throw in the fact that Wheeler’s spring training was cut short due to the league’s suspension, it’s possible his joints and ligaments aren’t fully ready to be throwing that hard again.
With all this in mind, it’s not outlandish to assume Wheeler might miss a few starts here and there in 2020. For the most part, this shouldn’t be something to get too concerned about. Having Wheeler for even just 90% of the season is a massive upgrade from the Nick Pivetta’s and the Vince Velasquez’s of the world.
If Wheeler needs a few days off here and there to rest his elbow or his shoulder, that’s totally fine by me.