Zack Wheeler was easily the Phillies' best starter in 2023. He covered 192 innings, tallied 212 strikeouts, and allowed only 77 earned runs. His strong showing throughout the regular season led to him finishing sixth in National League Cy Young voting, even receiving all the way up to third-place votes. If there were still any questions about who the Phillies' ace is, they are put to rest now.
Throughout the regular season, Wheeler was often the Phillies stopper. Every fifth day, when Rob Thomson handed the ball to the 33-year-old, you expected a win. In most cases, that was true. In the first half of the season, he started slow, pitching to an ERA just over 4.00 in 18 games, but showed his real prowess down the stretch and into the postseason.
In his 14 games during the second half of the season, Wheeler compiled 9.5 strikeouts a game and brought home a 3.08 ERA.
In the postseason, Wheeler had a 3-0 record, 1.95 ERA, 35 strikeouts, and team wins against Jesús Luzardo, Spencer Strider, and Zac Gallen (twice).
Wheeler carries himself with a different demeanor than most. Not a cockiness, but confidence in his stuff and ability to throw it. In the playoffs, he attacked the strike zone more than ever, going ahead 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 in counts and keeping the hitters guessing. When you have a 100 mph fastball, a sinker that drops off the table, and a sweeping slider that can range from low 80s to low 90s in velocity, it's tough for a hitter to guess right.