Phillies: Zack Wheeler shines in debut with new team
By Hunter Doyle
Zack Wheeler was dominant in his Philadelphia Phillies debut.
In previous seasons, starting pitcher Zack Wheeler has gotten off to slow starts, but he wasted no time getting in a groove in his first start with the Philadelphia Phillies after seeing the birth of his son earlier this week.
In seven innings of work, the 30-year-old allowed just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out four against the Miami Marlins. All of those hits were singles and didn’t travel too far.
He also kept his pitch count at a reasonable mark with just 87 total pitches in those seven innings. He was around the strike zone all-day with 57 of those 87 pitches for strikes. There were some close pitches that probably could’ve made that number a bit better too.
His sinker and fastball were on point as he retired 10 of the 24 batters he faced with those two pitches alone. He sat around 96 to 98 mph and consistently located at the top of the zone while also jamming hitters on the inside part of the plate for big outs.
Even when the Marlins’ hitters got in favorable 1-0 and 2-0 counts where they were expecting the fastball, Wheeler blew it right by them. He put everything he had into his very last pitch striking out Garrett Cooper on 98 mph fastball up in the zone.
All four double plays came off of either Wheeler’s fastball or sinker. One of those double plays resulted from a high fastball and three of them resulted from sinkers painted perfectly inside on the plate. Most of his fastballs were right on the border of the strike zone where hitters had to swing because it was too close to take, and they had trouble getting their hands inside all day.
His fastball was noticeably effective when he got in a bit of a jam in the fifth inning. After a walk and a single, Wheeler let up an RBI single but bounced back the very next pitch by jamming Chad Wallach inside with a 96 mph fastball for a 1-4-3 double play.
The rest of Wheeler’s pitches were working pretty well too. He kept his slider down in the zone and occasionally painted it on the outside corner too. It sat around 89-92 mph this afternoon. Any opposing lineup is going to struggle when Wheeler is locating that slider as well as he is with that velocity and spin. Two of his strikeouts came as a result of it, and they were both right on the low outside corner.
His curveball helped him out a lot as well. He made Jesus Aguilar look silly on a three-pitch strikeout where he set him up with a first-pitch fastball and came back with two straight curveballs low and outside. Not to mention, Wheeler’s changeup isn’t known as one of his most effective pitches, but he got three flyouts off of it and used it in the right situations.
The first start of Wheeler’s Phillies career was certainly an encouraging one. It’s great to see him and J.T. Realmuto on the same page already.