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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ZACK WHEELER SP NEW YORK METS

If you were to have been told that inconsistent and injury-plagued New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler would be one of the best pitchers in all of fantasy baseball during the second-half of the season, you would have suggested that individual take up fantasy gold or fantasy auto racing.  After all, Wheeler has been nothing but a health mess who on the rare times he was on the mound, showing horrific control and the inability to generate his 98-mph fastball into consistent strikeouts.  It seemed like there would be more of the same on that front to begin 2018 as Wheeler once again struggled to repeat his delivery and at the same time put up a string of mediocre outing to go into the All-Star Break with the following numbers:

3-6
4.44 ERA
1.34 WHIP
106 K in 107.1 IP
3.35 BB/9
8.89 K/9
0.92 HR/9

While the strikeout rate did improve in averaging nearly one per IP, the ERA and WHIP once again showed troubles that were helped along by more ugly control by Wheeler and also a propensity to give up home runs.  A funny thing happened though and that was Wheeler turning into an upper-level pitcher once the second half began.  In fact, Wheeler has been so good since the Midsummer Classic that his numbers are as good as any pitcher's during that span as you can see below:

5-0
1.38 ERA
0.85 WHIP
40 K in 39 IP
1.62 BB/9
9.23 K/9
0.23 HR/9

Right away the lack of walks jump out and just like we have seen in the excellent season being put forth by the Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell, improvement in walk rates for a power arm like Wheeler can quickly thrust their status from SP 5 to as high as an SP 2.  While we are not comfortable saying Wheeler has reached the heights of Snell this season, he is on his way as his strikeout rate has jumped, the home runs are down, and the walks are depressed to help the ratios move into very valuable territory.  We do have a concern about Wheeler in September given the fact he is already reaching career-high levels in innings pitched but for now you have to ride him out for as long as this fun lasts.  Then as far as next season is concerned, we can feel much more safe in drafting Wheeler as a possible firm SP 3 option. 


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