Zack Wheeler provided a much-needed boost to the starting rotation
When Zack Wheeler signed a five-year $118 million deal last offseason, it was a given that he would be the team’s No. 2 starter, behind ace Nola.
The right-handed pitcher posted an 11-8 record, 3.96 ERA, and 1.259 WHIP last season with the New York Mets and was a clear step-up over Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, and an aging Jake Arrieta.
Wheeler picked up the win in his first regular-season game with the Phillies, giving up only one run off of five hits and two walks in seven innings against the Miami Marlins.
He remained a somewhat steady starter through his first seven games, posting a 4-0 record, 2.20 ERA, and 1.089 WHIP — before fading in his final four starts. Despite a large number of hits against him, Wheeler did not give up more than three runs in a game until the four runs surrendered to the Tampa Bay Rays in his season finale.
Wheeler finished a shortened season with a 4-2 record in 11 starts. His 2.92 ERA and 2.0 walks per nine innings were best among Phillies starters, while his .667 win percentage was tied with Eflin and his 1.169 WHIP was second to Nola’s 1.079.
One area which could use improvement is his 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings, which is only better than Arrieta’s 6.5. Still, his immediate impact was evident and shows promise for the next four years.
While the 2020 season provided plenty to moan about, the performances of “Phillies freshmen” Gregorius and Wheeler is a reason to smile and, with the right offseason signings, can help create optimism heading into 2021.