Where would the Phillies be without Zack Wheeler?
Before 2021, Wheeler had never finished a season with an ERA under 3.31 in any year in which he started at least 16 games (every season except 2020, for obvious reasons). In his first 16 starts this season, Wheeler has a 2.20 ERA over 106 1/3 innings and leads all of MLB with 130 strikeouts. He’s gone at least six innings in all but three of his starts. has at least six strikeouts in all but two of them, and hasn’t allowed a home run in 11 of 16 games.
After Sunday’s start against his former team – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K – Wheeler joined some elite Phillies company. Frustrating for Mets fans, but a rare moment of happiness for Phillies fans.
But Wheeler’s performance so far this season goes beyond his effectiveness for the 2021 Phillies; he joined some elite company with Sunday’s start:
It goes beyond the Phillies, too. Baseball-Reference now has Wheeler leading all MLB pitchers in WAR!
For what they’re getting out of Wheeler this season, his contract looks like an absolute bargain. Between 2020-2021, he’s thrown more innings than Gerrit Cole, his ERA and FIP are lower, and he’s getting paid less than half of Cole’s blockbuster contract. Not to mention, Cole’s struggles since the substance ban took effect last week, while Wheeler seems largely unaffected.
It’s absolutely wild that Wheeler hasn’t received more attention for his incredible season thus far. Hopefully, his presumed All-Star appearance next month will give him more of the kudos he deserves.