In December 2019, the Philadelphia Phillies rolled the dice on a $118 million contract with former New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler. Two years later, Wheeler has utterly out-pitched his contract.
Across his two seasons with the club, this season in particular, Wheeler has established himself as the Phillies’ ace. That was magnified after a brilliant complete-game shutout against his former Mets team on Aug. 8.
Zack Wheeler stats (2021): 2.42 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 156 ERA+ and 181 strikeouts over 156.0 innings (23 starts)
Zack Wheeler has been elite for the Philadelphia Phillies
The aforementioned stat line speaks for itself. Wheeler has been a beast this season.
He’s essentially fooling and overpowering hitters with all four of his offerings, that being fastball, slider, sinker and curveball. Wheeler is pitching deep into games, striking hitters out at a high rate and is a legitimate National League Cy Young Award candidate.
Furthermore, Wheeler leads MLB in innings pitched and is second in strikeouts with five shutouts to his name this season. Wheeler was pretty much the same pitcher in 2020, finishing the season with a 2.92 ERA and a 151 ERA+ over 71.0 innings (11 starts). He has merely been an enhanced version of his 2020 self this season. The velocity, command and offerings have all come together for the former first-round draft selection.
Wheeler got in a groove towards the end of his time with the Mets and has taken his game to the next level with the Phillies. As is, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. Wheeler has been as lethal and reliable as any right-handed arm in MLB over the last two seasons and has been the Phillies’ best starting pitcher since Roy Halladay.