Phillies Season Preview: Zack Wheeler will carry the rotation again in 2024

The Phillies starter will be heavily leaned on as the rotation's ace once again in 2024.

Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day
Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The next player in our 2024 Philadelphia Phillies season preview series is starting pitcher Zack Wheeler.

Previous season previews: José AlvaradoAndrew BellattiAlec BohmConnor BrogdonNick CastellanosRodolfo CastroKody ClemensJake CaveDylan CoveySeranthony DomínguezDarick HallKolby AllardBryce HarperJeff HoffmanOrion KerkeringRafael MarchánBrandon MarshYunior MartéMichael MercadoMax CastilloNick NelsonAaron NolaLuis OrtizCristian PacheJ.T. RealmutoJohan RojasMichael RuckerWhit MerrifieldCristopher Sánchez, Kyle SchwarberEdmundo SosaGregory SotoBryson Stott, Matt Strahm, Garrett Stubbs, Ranger Suárez, Spencer Turnbull, Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker

We'll look back at Wheeler's 2023 performance and then examine where he might end up this season using the popular Steamer and ZiPS projection systems, which can be found on FanGraphs.

Zack Wheeler 2023 stats and 2024 projections

2023 Stats: 32 GS, 192 IP, 13-6 record, 3.61 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 212 SO, 39 BB, 5.9 fWAR

2024 Steamer: 32 GS, 197 IP, 13-10 record, 3.55 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 199 SO, 47 BB, 4.7 fWAR

2024 ZiPS DC: 32 GS, 192 IP, 12-8 record, 3.61 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 192 SO, 54 BB, 5.1 fWAR

Zack Wheeler 2024 season preview

Zack Wheeler enters the 2024 season as the Phillies' best starting pitcher once again. Last year, he won a Gold Glove Award for the first time in his career. His 212 strikeouts were the second-highest of his career, as they were shy of the 247 he totaled in 2021 with the team.

Wheeler's 192 innings pitched in 2023 were the third most of his career in the majors. He pitched exceptionally last postseason in five appearances and four starts. The right-hander finished with a 3-0 record and a 1.95 ERA. In 27 2/3 innings, he had 35 strikeouts, three walks, and a 0.72 WHIP.

After much speculation this offseason, the Phillies and Wheeler agreed on a three-year extension that begins next season and expires following 2027. The Gold Glove winner would have been a free agent following this year.

According to Baseball Savant, Wheeler relies on his four-seam fastball 43.4 percent of the time. The next five pitches he throws include a sinker (18.1%), cutter (14.4%), sweeper (12.3%), curveball (11.4%), and changeup (0.4%). The sweeper, which has more horizontal movement and is typically slower than a traditional slider, has been used more often in MLB over the last few years. The Phillies ace began implementing the pitch in his arsenal last year.

Wheeler has added a new splitter this season, which has looked sharp in spring training, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Alex Coffey.

Expectations are that Wheeler will be the Phillies' top starter again in 2024

Following winning his first-ever Gold Glove Award and his three-year extension, Wheeler will have expectations to be the top man in the Phillies starting rotation once again. Barring injury, he should deliver for the club in this role.

Steamer and ZiPS DC each predict Wheeler will make 32 starts, the same amount the pitcher made in 2023. ZiPS DC projects the 33-year-old to pitch 192 innings, the total amount he threw last season, while Steamer predicts he will throw 197 innings.

ZiPS DC also has Wheeler finishing with a 3.61 ERA, which was his final ERA in 2023. Steamer projects he will finish with a 3.55 ERA. Both projection systems predict him to finish with fewer strikeouts and more walks than he had last season. Steamer projects the right-hander will have 199 strikeouts, while ZiPS DC projects 192. Steamer predicts he will have 47 walks, while ZiPS DC projects he will finish with 54.

Manager Rob Thomson named Wheeler the Phillies 2024 Opening Day starter on March 28 versus the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The decision snaps Aaron Nola's six-year streak as Philadelphia's Opening Day starter. Wheeler has been the team's best pitcher for the last few years and will be instrumental to their success this year.