After weeks of speculation, the Mets made it official: they are calling up top prospect Zack Wheeler on Tuesday. The Mets play a day/night double-header against the Braves and will fire a double-barreled shot of young arms, going with Matt Harvey in the afternoon and Wheeler in the evening most likely.
The Mets acquired Wheeler from the Giants in July 2011 in the Carlos Beltran trade. With Triple-A Las Vegas this year, Wheeler posted a 3.93 ERA in 68.2 innings. The ERA may seem unimpressive, but Las Vegas is known as an extremely hitter-friendly environment. Reliever Greg Burke called it “the worst pitching place imaginable”. The good news is that Wheeler is averaging better than a strikeout per inning pitched and has continued to improve his control.
Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles minor league right-hander Daniel McCutchen has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for two PEDs. Tests revealed Methenolone and a metabolite of Trenbolon.
McCutchen made one appearance with the Pirates last season and owns a 4.77 ERA over 108 appearances in the majors. The 30-year-old right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Orioles over the winter, but was reassigned to minor league after posting a 6.14 ERA over seven appearances this spring.
The Orioles were trying to reinvent McCutchen as a sidearmer at Triple-A Norfolk, similar to what they did with Mets right-hander Greg Burke last year, but that experiment will now have to wait.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mets are “scouring” the market for bullpen help. He mentions Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez and Matt Capps among those still available, but it’s unclear whether the Mets have any interest in those specific pitchers.
Frank Francisco had surgery earlier this month to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, but he’s expected to be ready for spring training. Still, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson could add an alternative for the ninth inning if the right opportunity arises. The Mets put most of their resources last offseason into upgrading their bullpen and they were worse in 2012 than they were in 2011, so they’ll likely look for last-minute bargains and hope for the best.
As of now, Francisco projects to open the season as the closer while Bobby Parnell will be the primary set-up man. The rest of the bullpen is a bit of a question mark, as they will likely be relying on youngsters like Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Robert Carson to take on more prominent roles. Greg Burke, who was signed to a minor league contract in November and has since been added to the 40-man roster, should also be in the mix.