Zack Wheeler has become the Phillies’ version of Jacob deGrom
In 2021, he led MLB in innings pitched, complete games, shutouts, and batters faced, and led the NL in strikeouts, losing the MLB lead by a single K. He was the first pitcher two reach 200 innings and 200 strikeouts in 2021, benchmarks he’d never hit before.
This is improved, but not new for Wheeler, who has been quietly dominant for a while now. Dating back to 2018, when he was still in New York, he has a 3.29 ERA over 103 starts. But he’s only getting better with age, like the pitching equivalent of fine wine.
And while Wheeler left the Mets, it would appear that he brought something with him from Queens to Philadelphia. According to Baseball Prospectus (subscription required), Wheeler and Jacob deGrom “have never been more similar.”
You can see that their deliveries are virtually identical. BP notes that the similarity is so exact, it comes down to where they each stand on the mound:
BP also noted that both pitchers have increased their fastball velocities every season since 2017.
Of course, the two are different in other ways. Wheeler has five pitches in his arsenal: the four-seam, sinker, curveball, slider, and changeup. deGrom began his career with five pitches but has always primarily relied on his four-seamer and slider. You’ll almost never see him throwing a curveball.
Wheeler (and later in the season, Ranger Suárez) was the star of the show for the 2021 Phillies. Without him on the mound and Bryce Harper in the lineup, their season would have been dead and buried by August.
The Mets, on the other hand, don’t exactly need Wheeler; they have deGrom and just signed Max Scherzer. Whereas Wheeler would be the number-three man on the Mets’ marquee, he’s the big fish in Philly’s small pond of mediocre pitching.
But when he’s throwing complete-game shutouts against the Mets, that’s all that matters.