May 31, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Dave Kingmans Big Start In May

Tuesday May 4th 1976: At this early point in the 1976 season, the Mets managed by Joe Frazier were 15-8 and in first place in the NL East. A Shea Stadium crowd of 18,528 fans came out to see the Mets host the reigning World Champions, the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds, managed by Sparky Anderson. 

Both clubs starting pitchers were off to good starts, The Mets Tom Seaver & the Reds Fred Norman were both 3-0 up to this point.

Fred Norman lost his control in the 2nd inning, issuing four walks which led to two Mets runs. The Reds got a run back in the 3rd, as Seaver himself walked two & Pete Rose singled in Cesar Geronimo. 

In the home 3rd inning, Joe Torre led off with a single. Then Dave Kingman hit a two run HR, putting the Mets ahead for good on the day. 

This started off a very hot productive streak for Mr. Kingman also known by the names "SkyKing" & "Kong". It was already Kingman's tenth HR of the season, the most in the league. The Mets got another run in the game on an Ed Kranepool RBI hit, capping off the 5-3 win. Seaver bested to 4-0 on the year as the first place Mets were rolling along nicely.

Friday May 7th 1976:  Tonight the first place Mets hosted John McNamara's third place San Diego Padres, as the National League's two best pitchers of 1976 faced off against each other. The Mets Jerry Koosman went up against the Padres, Randy Jones, who would narrowly beat out Koos for that years Cy Young Award.

1976 had some good highlights for the Mets: Jerry Koosman would win twenty games & slugger Dave Kingman would set a Mets club record with 37 HRs, second most in the NL. It would be Tom Seaver's last full season before trade in 1977. Sadly it was to be the clubs last winning season until 1984.

In the May 7th, Friday night game, it was Dave Kingman  he was to be the star. In the 1st inning he wasted no time, as he blasted a two run HR off Jones, scoring Joe Torre with the first two runs of the game. In the 4th, Koosman helped out his own cause with an RBI single to go up 3-2. The Padres managed two runs off Koosman, & the score was 3-2 into the 8th inning.

Then Padre relief pitcher; Mike Dupree, allowed a lead off double to Felix Millan & a single to Joe Torre. Kingman then followed with a three run blast to left center field, putting the Mets ahead 5-4.

 It was his eleventh HR of the young season. It turned out to be the game winner, as Koosman went the distance for the victory. He allowed two runs on six hits with seven strike outs to go to 3-1.

Wednesday May 12th 1976: Five days later the Mets were on the road to play the Braves in Atlanta. The Mets were still in first place at 19-11 & Dave Bristols Braves, were in fifth place at 9-19. 

The Braves pitcher, Andy Messersmith, who was one of the games top pitchers in the early to mid seventies, and had also became one of the first free agents, who had signed with Atlanta but was struggling at 0-4. The Mets once again had Jerry Koosman on the mound. 

In the top of the 1st, Kingman started it off with a solo HR. In the Mets 4th, Joe Torre & Ron Hodges got aboard & a Roy Staiger single made it 3-0. Mike Phillips added an RBI hit & Del Unser a sac Fly to make it 4-0 Mets.

In the 5th it was Kingman again, hitting his league leading 14th HR of the season, also hit off Messersmith. Kong also added an RBI double in the 7th inning making it 6-0 Mets.

Kingman had a big four hit evening & drove in three runs, already giving him 33 RBIs for the season. Up to that point in Mets history, the team had never had a slugger like Kingman, putting up such big HR numbers.

The Mets would win the game 6-3, as Koosman earned his fourth win (4-1) & Skip Lockwood earned the save, his fifth. 

In the first 12 days of May 1976, in a span of ten games, Dave Kingman had five HRs with 13 RBIs while collecting 13 hits.

Joe Orsulak: 1990's New Jersey Born Mets Player (1993-1995)

Joseph Michael Orsulak was born on May 31st, 162 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. The six foot left handed hitting Orsulak attended Parsippany Hills High School  & turned down a full scholarship to Rutgers University, to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the 6th round of the 1980 draft. He hit well enough in two years to go from A ball to AAA Hawaii by 1983.

He debuted with the Pirates in 1983 playing in seven games. By 1985 he was the Pirates regular outfielder batting .300 with 14 doubles 24 stolen bases a .342 on base % 7 21 RBIs coming in sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

In 1986 his average fell to .249 & he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles at the end of the year. He spent five seasons with Baltimore as a regular player, batting over .280 three times, while posting good on base percentages.

In 1992 he helped christen the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards getting two hits in a game against the Cleveland Indians. His strong arm had him lead the AL in assists (22) in 1991, while making a league leading 13 assists just in left field alone. That year he also posted a perfect .1000 fielding % as a left fielder. He came in fifth place with eight assists in right field in both 1992 & 1994. In December of 1992 Orsulak signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.

Orsulak was considered the fourth outfielder for the '93 Mets, but he actually got into more games then Vince Coleman & Ryan Thompson. He got into 134 games overall (fourth most on the club).

Orsulak made his Mets debut on April 5th Opening Day playing centerfield & batting 6th. He had a good start batting over .290 by early May, when he hit his first Mets HR in a 4-0 win over the Florida Marlins. He kept his average up having eight multi hit games in May & starting out June with a nine game hit streak, hitting safely in 13 of 16 games.

In July he got his average over .300, he had three separate three hit games & hit two HRs both coming in the final week of the month. On August 30th he hit a bottom of the 8th inning HR to break a 4-4 tie against the Houston Astros, leading the Mets to a 5-4 victory. For the season he batted .284 (second on the club to Eddie Murray's .285) with a .331 on base % 8 HRs 15 doubles & 35 RBIs. In the outfield he had nine assists with a .978 fielding %.

In 1994 he pinch hit on Opening Day staying in the game to go 0-2 in the Mets 12-6 win at Wrigley Field. He got the starts in the next two games & drove in runs in each of them. He had a big start to May hitting a three run HR against the Dodgers in 1 7-4 Mets win at Shea onMay 1st.

Two days later he hit a grand slam HR against Michael Jackson & the San Francisco Giants. From May 10th through May 17th he hit two more HRs and drove in eight runs.

On May 17th at Shea Stadium he hit a two run HR against the Florida Marlins & then won the game with a walk off RBI single scoring Todd Hundley. In June he produced 13 runs, with four multi RBI games, although the Mets lost all but two of the games he drove runs in on. He ended the strike shortened season batting .260 with 8 HRs 3 doubles 42 RBIs & a .299 on base %.

In 1995 Orsulak was the Mets main left fielder, playing alongside Bret Butler & Carl Everett. On Opening Day he came into the game late, driving in a run in an extra inning loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

On April 29th his bases loaded single off Vicente Palacios scored Bobby Bonilla with the game winning run. By mid May he was batting over .400, naturally he tailed off but kept his average above .290 through mid August. On June after coming into the game late, he singled up the middle off Florida's Randy Veres, scoring Tim Bogar with the games winning run.

In July he had another game winning moment, when his 7th inning sac fly scored Jeff Kent breaking a 2-2 tie against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 7th, he hit a three run HR off Florida's Terry Mathews, bringing the Mets from a 2-1 deficit to a 5-2 victory. 

He had another big day later in the month getting three hits & driving in three runs in a 7-6 Mets win over the San Diego Padres. For the second place 1995 Mets, Orsulak batted .283 with one HR 19 doubles a .323 on base % & 37 RBIs.

Orsulak put in an under rated three year career with the Mets, batting .276 with 579 hits 35 HRs 221 RBIs & a .331 on base % in 338 games. Orsulak was let go to free agency signing a deal with the Florida Marlins. He hit just .221 and was traded to the Montreal Expos in the Cliff Floyd deal. Orsulak played the 1997 season with the Expos batting .227 in 106 games closing out his career.

In a 14 year career he batted .273 with 1173 hits 186 doubles 37 trples 57 HRs 405 RBIs 93 stolen bases & a .324 on base % in 1494 games played. As an outfielder he made 105 assists with a .982 fielding % in 1253 games.
Family: Orsulak married Adriana Venditti whom he met playing in the Venezuelan Winter League in 1983. They have two children, sadly she passed in 2004 after a long battle with brain cancer.

Retirement: Orsulak is a long time co-host for the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Tonight show

May 30, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (1973) Tom Seaver Strikes Out 16 Giants

May 29th, 1973: the Mets were in the midst of a California West Coast road trip. Yogi Berra's Mets were just below .500 at 20-21 in second place 5 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs. 

They had lost four straight, including getting beat by a pair of Hall of Fame pitchers the past two nights. The previous night the first place San Francisco Giants, Juan Marichal beat rookie Tommie Moore & the night before that, the Dodgers Don Sutton beat Jerry Koosman in a 2-1 classic.

Tonight's game drew a small crowd, just under 8000 at Candlestick Park. The Mets sent Tom Seaver to the mound to face off against Jim Barr.

Starting Lineups

Seaver started things off by striking out two batters in the 1st inning, & then the side in the 2nd inning.

In the 5th inning, Seaver put the Mets on the board hitting his first & only HR of the season. Seaver was a fine hitting pitcher who batted .154 with 12 career HRs & 86 RBIs.

In the Giants home 6th inning, Tito Fuentes doubled to left field & Willie McCovey blasted a two un HR. McCovey was one of Seaver's most respected & toughest opponents, growing up in Fresno made him an idol. It was 2-1 Giants. Barr kept the Mets at bay, holding them to just one run through eight innings.

Seaver allowed just the two runs & was striking out Giants along the way. He had at least one strike out in every inning with a pair of K's in the 4th, 5th inning & 8th innings.

In the top of the 9th, pinch hitter Ken Boswell drew a walk. Giants manager Charlie Fox, pulled Barr & brought in reliever Randy Moffitt. Moffitt is the younger brother of female tennis star Bill Jean King, who was on top of her game in 1973.

Moffitt surrendered singles to Bud Harrelson & Tom Seaver. He then walked Wayne Garrett forcing in a run to tie the game. Felix Millan followed with a two run single, putting the Mets up 4-2. Moffitt was gone & Sudden Sam McDowell was brought in to pitch.

Yogi Berra sent in George "the Stork" Theodore to pinch hit & he came through with a sac fly scoring Millan making it 5-2, Mets.

McDowell retired Jim Gosger next & Boswell again who originally led off the inning, as the Mets batted around.

Seaver came on to finish the game off, striking out Gary Maddox for K #15 & then he got McCovey for his 16th strike out of the day.

On the night Seaver struck out every batter in the line up. Bobby Bonds led the team in wiffs, going down four times, earning "the golden sombrero".

Willie McCovey who homered, also struck out three times on the night. Chris Speier & Gary Mathews both went down twice apiece.

The victory put Seaver at 6-3 his fourth win in a row. His ERA was an incredible 1.71 eleven games into the season. He already had 82 strike outs on the season. The 16 Ks would be his highest total in a single game all year. Overall he had six games where had double figures in strike outs.

Remembering Mets History: (1964) Mets Play the Longest Doubleheader In MLB History (9 Hours 52 Minutes)

Sunday May 31st 1964: The second place San Francisco Giants (25-17) just one game out of first place, returned to New York, just seven years after leaving the Polo Grounds for the west coast. They always attracted big crowds when they came back to play the Mets & today's double header drew  57,037 fans. 

It was a day to go down in the history books, as this was to be the longest double header in baseball history. The double header lasted a total of nine hours fifty two minutes. 

The first game was a breeze, as the Giants behind Hall of Famer; Juan Marichal lasting just two hours & twenty nine minutes. The Giants beat the Mets & pitcher Al Jackson, 5-3 in nine innings.

Night Cap:

Starting Lineups

The second game started with the Mets Bill Wakefield going up against Bobby Bolin. Wakefield was hit for two runs in the 1st inning,. A leadoff walk to Harvey Kuenn led to an RBI double by Jesus Alou & then a base hit to Hall of Famer Willie Mays.

Wakefield was removed by Mets skipper; Casey Stengel after just two innings. In the 3rd the Giants hit six singles & scored four more times off pitchers; Craig Anderson & Tom Sturdivant. Tom Haller, Chuck Hiller, Jim Ray Hart & Bob Bolin all delivered RBIs. 

The Mets had scored a run on catcher Cris Cannizzaro's single in the 2nd & were down 6-1 in the 6th inning. Joe Christopher singled & up came a young twenty year old Ed Kranepool. 

Kranepool was an original Met, the teams first bonus baby, home grown out of the Soundview section of the Bronx. 

The youngster had just arrived after being called up from the minors, where he just played in both games of a double header the day before. Kranepool was in for a long day, as he would play in both games of this doubleheader, all 32 innings. In this at bat he tripled, bringing in a run & then scored on Charlie Smith's base hit making it 6-3 Giants.

In the 7th; the Mets Joe Christopher hit a three run HR to tie the game, all of a sudden making this an exciting ball game. It was just the start. 

The Giants would send three future Mets; Ken MacKenzie, Bob Shaw & Ron Herbel to the mound through  the 11th inning. It was then Gaylord Perry, the future Hall of Famer came in to pitch an incredible ten innings of relief. He allowed no earned runs on seven hits with one walk & nine strike outs.

After the first three Mets pitchers, Frank Lary pitched two scoreless innings. Then Larry Bearnarth threw seven shut out innings, allowing just three hits with four strike outs. Galen Cisco came on in the 15th inning, pitching another nine innings & would eventually take the loss.

Triple Play: In the 14th inning, Jesus Alou singled & Willie Mays walked. Orlando Cepeda hit a hard line drive up the middle, but Mets short stop; Roy McMillan snagged it, stepped on second to get Alou & threw to first to nail Mays for the triple play. The excitement continued.

The game rolled along as one of the longest ever in baseball history, entering its 23d inning. With one out the Giants got a triple from Jim Davenport & an intentional walk to Craig Peterson. 

Pinch hitter Del Crandall doubled bringing in Davenport. Then Alou added an RBI single to make it 8-6. Bob Hendley closed out the bottom of the 23rd, retiring the Mets in order.

The game is still not the longest for the Mets, they would play a 25 inning game on September 11th 1974 & a 24 inning game on April 15th 1968. The game ranks as the 8th longest game to play in baseball history.A total of 41 players were used in the game, with New York using 21 of them. Both teams used six pitchers each.
Umpire Ed Sudol

Trivia: This game was the first extra inning contest at Shea Stadium which had just opened up in April 1964, two months earlier.

Trivia: New Jersey born Umpire Ed Sudol, was the home plate umpire for this game & strangely enough, was the home plate umpire for all three of the Mets longest games mentioned above.

May 29, 2020

Zack Wheeler: Former Mets Pitcher (2013-2019)

Zachary Harrison Wheeler was born May 30th 1990, in Smyrna, Georgia. The six foot four left hander, attended East Paulding High School in Georgia. In his senior year he was 9-0, getting voted the Georgia Player of the Year by Baseball America.

In 2009 Wheeler was the San Francisco Giants number one pick, the sixth pick overall in that years draft. After a year in the South Atlantic League, he pitched at A Ball San Jose going 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA posting 98 strike outs in 88 innings, getting named to the All Star team. That July he was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Carlos Beltran.

Wheeler came to the Mets as a highly touted prospect with lots of hope for the future. He is a power pitcher with a five pitch repertoire. His fastball is the 95-100 mph range & his curve ball is considered one of the best in the organization.

Wheeler closed out 2011 at A Ball St. Lucie where he went 2-2 with a 2.00 ERA. In 2012 he pitched at AA Binghamton (19 games) leading the club in wins (10) going 10-8 with 117 strike outs in 116 innings posting a 3.26 ERA, making another All Star team. He was moved up to AAA Buffalo (six games) where he went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA. 

Overall his 12 wins tied Gonzalez Germen for the most wins by a Mets farmhand. His 148 combined strike outs were best among Mets minor leaguers & he was 9th in the league in ERA (3.26).

In 2013 he entered the year as Baseball America's #13 prospect & was one of the most watched players at Mets Spring Training. 

He started out well but strained an oblique muscle while taking batting practice. The Mets wanted him to start in the minors despite the anticipation the fans & media had for him at the big league level.

Wheeler began the year at AAA Las Vegas with the 51's. In 13 games he was 4-2 with 73 strike outs & 27 walks in 68 innings. On June 18th, he got the much awaited big league debut, coming in the second game of a double header in his native Georgia, at Atlanta. 

Matt Harvey had gotten the start & the win in the first game. Everyone was saying that this was the Mets one & two pitchers of the future in a a winning era.

Wheeler After His First Career Win In Atlanta
Wheeler pitched six innings, allowing no runs on four hits while striking out seven, while walking five to earn his first career win, a 6-1 victory. 

His next start was in Chicago & the White Sox got him for four runs in 5.1 innings in a no decision. On June 30th he gave up five runs & took his first career loss coming against the Washington Nationals.

 July proved to be a good month for Wheeler, on July 5th he went five innings in Milwaukee allowing just one earned run in a 12-5 Mets win. On July 12th in San Francisco he beat the Giants 7-2, getting his record to 3-1, as he allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings. As the Braves came to Citi Field, Wheeler posted another victory, pitching six innings allowing just two runs.

After a loss to Kansas City he posted three more victories in the month of August. On August 15th he struck out 12 Padres in San Diego over six innings but had no decisions in the 4-1 Mets win. He closed out September with two losses finishing up the year at 7-5 with 84 strike outs 46 walks & a 3.42 ERA in 100 innings pitched in 17 starts.

In 2014 the Mets lost Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery for the season, Wheelers' position on the staff was even more important. He began the year at 0-2, on April 14th in Arizona he got his first win pitching into the seventh inning, beating the D-backs 7-3.

It took over a month to gain another victory, even though he had had some good outings with no run support. On May 7th he shut out the Marlins in Miami over six innings but got no decision. June saw Wheeler fall to 2-7 before his best outing of the year came.

On June 19th he pitched his first complete game, a three hit eight strike out performance in Miami to beat the Marlins 1-0. That win put Wheeler in a good groove, after a loss to the Oakland A's, he went on to win his next six decisions through July until late August. 

In that time he pitched into the seventh inning, ten of thirteen starts. In five straight starts in July he never allowed more than one run.

In September he beat the Reds in Cincinnati & then shut out the Braves for six innings in Atlanta. He also took a loss to the Nationals in one of his worst outings where he allowed six earned runs. 

Wheeler with his girl friend in 2015
For 2014 he went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA, 187 strike outs (10th in the NL) & 79 walks (3rd most in the NL) in 185 innings pitched over 32 starts. His 9.081 strike outs per nine innings was 6th best in the league.

There was a lot of excitement going into the Mets 2015 season, particularly with their pitching staff. As Wheeler was penciled in for a top three spot in the rotation, along with Matt Harvey returning from Tommy John surgery & Jacob deGrom coming off his Rookie of the Year season. 

But in Spring Training Wheeler & the Mets got the bad news that he had a torn ulnar collateral ligament. On March 25, Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. David Altchek to repair the torn UCL in his elbow. Wheeler missed the entire 2015 season. He was thrilled for his team mates & rooted them on as the went all the way to the World Series.

In July when rumors swirled that he was traded along with Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee he was very upset but completely thrilled when the deal didn't go thru. He was outspoken about it saying how glad he was to be a Met & anxious to join the club in 2016.

Wheeler was hopeful to join the Mets rotation in July, & began to throw softly again at Spring Training 2016 where he joined his pitching pals. He started out the year on the 60 day disabled list. On August 6th he finally made a start at St. Lucie but only threw 17 pitches & was diagnosed with a mild flexor strain. He would be shut down for year by September.

Quotes: Zack Wheeler-It's been tough, mental side and physical side, You have good days, bad days arm-wise, mostly good, but those bad days, they are there and you just have to keep in mind this is what it takes to get back on the field. Some days you don’t feel like going in that weight room, but you have to remind yourself where you want to be once you do get back up there.’’

When asked about pitching inside he told the NY Post this winter- “People have gotten away from that, people are getting soft these days. I don’t care, if somebody is showing me up or throwing at one of our guys, you are going to get something inside to let you know I noticed that.’’

2017: In 2017 he pitched at Spring Training & the Mets made it clear he would be watched closely when the season began. Wheeler made his 2017 & long awaited return on April 7th at Citi Field. That day the Miami Marlins hit him up for five runs on six hits in a 7-2 loss. 

In his next start, he earned his first win in almost three years, beating the Phillies in Philadelphia 5-4. He would earn two no decisions in outings where he allowed just one earned run each time to close out April.

On May 9th he had his best start of the season up to that point. Wheeler went six innings allowing just one run on two hits striking out four Giants, as the Mets earned him his second win of the year in a 6-1 triumph over San Francisco at Citi Field.

On May 15th in Arizona, he pitched seven innings allowing just one run with a season vest six strike outs but the Mets bullpen took the 7-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. On May 20th Wheeler earned his third & final victory of the 2017 season, beating the Anaheim Angels.

Over the next two months he would go 0-5, including back to back disasters on June 13th (against the Cubs) & June 19th (against the Dodgers) where he allowed seven earned runs or more each time. Both came with less than two innings pitched & six or more hits allowed as well. 

On June 21st he was placed on the DL with bicep tendinitis, on July 24th he was back on DL with with a stress fracture in his right arm. 

On August 24th he was officially shut down for the season. In 17 games he was 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA 81 strike outs & 40 walks in 86 innings of work.

2018: In Spring Training 2018 he came in fighting for a spot in the rotation, especially after the Mets signed Jason Vargas, which irritated Wheeler. Unfortunately after a decent start everything went down hill. He ended the Spring getting demoted to AAA. 

Wheeler had an opportunity here to make this team, and to be blunt he just didn’t get it done,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “Some guys out-pitched him, so he needs to go pitch. We are a better team when Zack Wheeler pitches like Zack Wheeler is capable.”

Quotes: “I really haven’t proved myself this spring,” Wheeler, a right-hander, said. “I saw it coming, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t.

Ten games into the 2018 season he was called up making his debut on April 11th. He had his best start thru May as he went seven shut out innings, allowing two hits, striking out seven earning a win in Miami against the Marlins. 

He lost his next start & then gave up four runs in a no decisions to the Cardinals at Bush Stadium.

On April 29th in San Diego, he got his second win as the Mets beat the Padres 14-2. In that game he struck out a season high nine batters. On May 4th he was shellacked for eight runs on ten hits over six terrible innings against the Rockies at Citi Field. His ERA ballooned to 5.79. 

Two starts later he gave up six more runs and another loss. By Memorial Day he was 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA, another disappointment on a disappointing staff & team. He took two more losses  decisions in June & fell to 2-6 with a 4.85 ERA at his lowest point in late June.

In July, things got better & Wheeler had a fine run winning six straight decisions & 10-1 through the end of the season. On July14th, he did allow four runs but the Mets bats supported him with seven runs. He pitched in to the 7th inning & beat the Nationals. In his next start he allowed two runs over seven innings & beat the San Diego Padres 6-3.

He closed out July with a 1-0 pitchers duel against the Pittsburgh Pirates & Joe Musgrove. Wheeler pitched six shut out innings & struck out seven while walking just one. His third straight win.

On August 4th, he reached the .500 mark, as he struck out nine Braves in another Mets shut out, Wheeler tossing seven of those innings. In Miami on August 10th, he beat the Marlins while striking out eight & allowing just two runs over another seven innings. On August 15th, he went just five innings, allowing just one run to beat the Orioles in Camden Yards, as the Mets blew out the 0's 16-5.

On August 20th, he got no decision in a seven inning, one run performance against the SF Giants, where he struck out a season high ten batters. Wheeler was pitching like he was always suppose to pitch, his next start was another shut out one, this time in six innings, as he beat the  Nats in D.C.

On August 31st, he took a tough loss breaking his personal seven game win streak. He allowed just one run to the Giant in Frisco but the Mets were shut out by Andrew Suarez & the bullpen. In his last four starts, Wheeler had never allowed more than one run in a game & three total runs in 26 innings.

He won his final three starts in September, with his September 12th win against the Marlins, being one of his seasons beat, as he pitched eight shut out innings, striking out seven & walking no one. In the second half of the season, Wheeler was more dominating that his Cy Young Award winning team mate, Jacob deGrom. After the All Star break, Wheeler held opponents to a .179 average & allowed just three HRs.

For 2018 Wheeler was 12-7 with a  .632 win loss % (9th best in the NL). 

He posted a 3.31 ERA with 179 strike outs 55 walks in 182 innings pitched in 29 starts. He also led the major leagues in giving up the lowest % of hard hit balls (24.8%). At the plate he drove in four runs & batted .196.

2019: In 2019 he saw action in five Spring Training games posting a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings of work. He made his first regular season start in the Mets third game of the season, pitching five innings allowing four runs earning no decision in the Mets loss in D.C. In his second start, the Nationals lit him up for seven runs in 4.2 innings of work, in the Mets loss at Citi Field.

On April 12th, he got his first win of the year, it came in his home town against the Braves. In six innings, he struck out eight & allowed just two runs & three walks in the Mets 6-2 win. He then took a loss in Philadelphia, falling to 1-2.

But on April 23rd, he rebounded with seven scoreless innings & a season high 11 strike outs, in a 9-0 Mets win over Philadelphia, to get to 2-2. In that game he also hit his first career HR & drove in three runs. Wheeler would drive in six runs on the year & bat .211.

Wheeler had a good May going 3-1, on May 10th he matched his season high with 11 strike outs, beating the Marlins at Citi Field. It was his second double figures strikeout game in a row. The next start was a debacle, 11 hit six earned run loss in Washington. After a no decision, he got wins against the Tigers & Phillies both on the road.

No Trade at the Deadline: He would go 2-3 over the next two months, leading up to the trade deadline. He was one of the most talked about Mets pitchers likely to be dealt but it never happened. The Mets instead acquired Marcus Stroman & kept their staff in tact. Their whole season turned around from there.

Wheeler went on a three game win streak, as the Mets went 21-5 from July 25th to August 23rd. They found themselves in the thick of the wild card race. Wheeler threw back to back shut outs to start out August, first in Chicago (seven innings) & Miami (eight innings) both resulting in wins. On August 13th he took a loss in his home town of Atlanta, giving up five runs & twelve hits in just five innings of work.

Three more no decisions followed, then he went on a hot streak as the Mets were in the thick of a pennant race. Wheeler would allow just one run in his next four starts.

On August 30th, he allowed just one run in six innings at Philadelphia, but got no decisions in the 11-5 Met win. On September 4th, he allowed just one run to the Nats over five innings for his tenth win of the year. On September 10th, he struck out seven, his highest K total since August 1st, beating the Diamondbacks in a big Mets four game series sweep.

On September 15th, he pitched seven innings of one run ball on Sunday Night Baseball against the Los Angles Dodgers. He left with a 2-1 lead but his bullpen failed once again. Wheeler had allowed just one earned run with at least six innings pitched in his last four starts, four earned runs in 27 innings. 

In his next start he gave up two 1st inning runs to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. The Mets tied the game & he left with no decision, but the bullpen lost this one as well 3-2. The Mets fell out of the race & Wheeler closed put the season with a loss to the Marlins.

In his last season with the Mets, Wheeler was 11-8 (the Mets were 16-15 in games he pitched) In 31 starts he allowed one earned run or less ten times, but also allowed
four or more runs ten times as well. Wheeler posted a 3.77 ERA with 195 strike outs & 50 walks in 195 innings (9th most in the NL) while allowing 22 HRs (1.014 HRs per nine innings- 8th most in the NL).

In the off season, Wheeler left the Mets & signed on with the Philadelphia Phillies. He & Mets GM Brodie Van Wagen had some choice words for each other back & forth through media. A solid point is if Wheeler ( along with the Mets bullpen) had a better first half, they may have very well been in the playoffs.

Career Stats: In five seasons he is 44-38 with a 3.77 ERA, 726 Ks & 270 walks in 749 innings pitched in 126 starts. He has allowed 75 HRs & has one shut out.

Family: Zack is married to the former Dominque Rizzo & they are expecting their first child by summer 2020.

His older brother Jacob is a photographer & poet who has combined his arts for public displays. He had given up baseball due to a heart condition.