Right now, Zack Wheeler deserves the NL Cy Young
A few years ago, when fans started talking about the Phillies possibly signing Zack Wheeler, I wasn’t gung-ho. Wheeler’s numbers with the Mets didn’t jump off the charts for me. And I was leery of bringing in another expensive free-agent starter after the bad experience of Jake Arrieta.
But I warmed to the idea when I read about how his stuff profiled as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Plus, the hard-throwing Wheeler was entering his prime, while Arrieta’s best years were behind him.
Well, I don’t know if it’s because Wheeler just needed to escape Jacob deGrom’s shadow, but he’s been phenomenal since donning a Philadelphia uniform. I wasn’t expecting him to be anywhere near this good. That five-year, $118 million contract looks like a tremendous investment.
Though the competition is close, Wheeler has fittingly emerged as the odds-on favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award.
He is fifth in ERA, at 2.42, but leads the NL in innings (156) and strikeouts (181). The other contenders, including the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler, come from teams with deeper, and better, pitching staffs.
So Wheeler has carried a heavier burden for his club – and delivered over and over. This is not to minimize what guys like Buehler have done, but in my completely unbiased opinion (ahem), Wheeler should absolutely be the Cy Young front-runner.