After Phillies victory on Sunday, Zack Wheeler says he’ll always have a chip on his shoulder pitching against the Mets
In December 2019, when Wheeler signed a five-year deal with the Mets’ division rivals, it was a massive coup for the Phillies and a loss for the Mets.
This was amplified on Sunday when Wheeler pitched a complete-game shutout to solidify a series sweep of his former team.
It wasn’t his first complete-game shutout of the season, but it was his first-ever against the Mets. When asked about his accomplishment after the game, this comment said it all:
It’s common knowledge by now, but Wheeler’s time with the Mets was not great, to put it politely.
Prior to this season, Wheeler had not thrown a complete game since 2014. He missed 2015 and 2016 due to Tommy John, but upon his return, he eventually became essential to the Mets’ rotation. He could go deep into games and did not give up too many home runs.
During Wheeler’s time in Queens, the Mets were owned by the Wilpons, notorious cheapskates who meddled in the team and allegedly profited from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Not long after Wheeler’s departure, the sale to Steve Cohen was announced, and Mets fans rejoiced. Unfortunately for them, it was too late for Cohen to bring back Wheeler.
Zack Wheeler says the Mets wouldn’t let him be with the team during the 2015 playoffs
Speaking of 2015, when Wheeler was recovering from Tommy John surgery, his teammates were making a postseason run. Despite not being able to participate or contribute, he wanted to “share the experience” with them. According to Mike Puma, not only was he not allowed to join them in the clubhouse or dugout, they wouldn’t even give him tickets to the games. He was told he’d have to buy his own. Wheeler opted to watch the games at home.
Sounds like a really great employer-employee relationship.
The Phillies weren’t the only team vying for Wheeler, either. The White Sox and Astros were two of numerous teams bidding for the then 29-year-old. Instead, he stayed close to home in the NL East. Yes, his wife is from New Jersey, but there was also definite appeal to the idea of dominating the team that wronged him. Wheeler effectively confirmed that with his ‘chip on my shoulder’ comment on Sunday.
Can Zack Wheeler win the NL Cy Young in 2021?
Since leaving the Mets, Wheeler has a 2.72 ERA in seven games against them between 2020-2021. Mets lineups are hitting .240/.284/.317 with a .600 OPS against him and he has only allowed one home run over 197 batters faced.
This season, Wheeler has a 2.42 ERA over 23 starts. His ERA has never been under 3.31 in any full MLB season (it was 2.92 over 11 starts in 2020). He leads all of MLB in innings pitched (156), complete games (3), shutouts (2), and strikeouts (181). He was a first-time All-Star and is the presumptive NL Cy Young.
Like the majority of his season, Wheeler’s performance on Sunday was Cy Young-caliber pitching. And now, his team has overtaken the Mets in the standings and looks to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
How ironic and vindicating for Wheeler.