He’s on track to win the NL Cy Young, which would make him the first Phillie since the late, great Roy Halladay to win MLB’s highest pitching honor.
How fitting that would be, especially after Sunday’s game.
Zack Wheeler throws a complete-game shutout for the Phillies on the day of Roy Halladay’s jersey retirement
Wheeler, getting the start on the day the Phillies were finally able to retire Halladay’s number at Citizens Bank Park (an event rescheduled from 2020 due to the pandemic), pitched a complete-game shutout, his second of the year (May 6). Over nine emotional innings, in front of a breathless crowd of fans and Phillies legends there to honor Halladay, Wheeler only allowed two hits and one walk to the lifeless Mets lineup. He struck out 11 batters, his sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season.
The game was laden with connections to Halladay, who pitched for the Phillies for the final four seasons of his magnificent career, from 2010-2013. Coincidentally, he threw two complete games against the Mets during his time in Philadelphia: a shutout on May 1, 2010, and a non-shutout on April 30, 2011.
No, Wheeler didn’t throw a perfect game. But symbolically, it was perfect.
Zack Wheeler could be the first Phillies pitcher to win the NL Cy Young Award since Roy Halladay
In his first season with the Phillies in 2010, Halladay led MLB in complete games (9), shutouts (4), wins (21), and innings pitched (250 2/3). He won his second career Cy Young award for his performance.
Halladay became the first pitcher since Steve Bedrosian in 1987 to win the Cy Young for the Phillies. Steve Carlton had been the first, and won four (1972, 77, 80, 82), followed by John Denny during their 1983 pennant season.
So, if Wheeler does win the Cy Young this season, he will be the first since the man whose jersey was retired in Philadelphia today.
How can you not be romantic about baseball?
After the game, Wheeler spoke about what it meant to get the start on this special weekend:
"“It’s a special weekend… I was lucky enough to pitch on Roy’s day, just tried to do my best, represent him while I was out there.”"
Wheeler also said that as a kid in Atlanta, he got to see Halladay pitch a lot:
"“I really enjoyed watching him growing up.”"
The Phillies have won all eight games in August, their best start of any month since 2006, their best start to the month of August since 1991. They are now 59-53 on the season and have extended their lead over the Mets to two games. What an amazing way to cap off this week.
Roy Halladay will be forever missed and forever in the hearts of Phillies fans. But it’s pretty clear he was there in spirit today.