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The Mets shut down Zack Wheeler for the season

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There was not a ton to be excited about if you were a Mets fan in 2018, but one thing that went really well was the emergence of Zack Wheeler.

After three seasons in which injuries and ineffectiveness made many people forget how good a prospect he was once upon a time, Wheeler really put it together in 2018, going 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and 8.8 K/9 across 29 starts. He was particularly effective in the second half, going 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts, while greatly reducing his walk rate. Just solid all around.

Today Mets manager Mickey Callaway confirmed that Wheeler’s Monday start was his last one and that he has been shut down for the season. It’s a workload-based decision, not a health decision. Wheeler has pitched 187.1 innings this season between the minors and majors, which is more than twice the number of innings he pitched in his previous three years combined. No sense risking his offseason routine. All kinds of sense in ending things on a high note.

Wheeler will be eligible for salary arbitration for the final time this winter. He will also, along with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, form the basis of what a lot of people might reasonably suspect is a rotation that can anchor a contender in 2019. Yes, people say that sort of thing about the Mets often and they so rarely come though, but hope is a hard thing to kill. Especially when you have a 1-2-3- punch with Wheeler as the “worst” of the bunch.

Giants making Brandon Belt available

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Giants have made first baseman Brandon Belt available in a trade and says that several teams have expressed interest in him.

Which is kind of weird, really.

Belt turns 31 early next season. He hit .253/.342/.414 with 14 homers over 112 games last year due to a knee injury and time lost to an appendectomy. He has a history of concussions and has averaged only 115 games over the last five seasons. Oh, and makes $48 million over the next three years.

Yes, he could be a very useful player if healthy, but taking on that kind of money, even a part of that money, when many very affordable first base/DH options are out there on the market makes little sense to me. Matt Adams. Justin Bour. Lucas Duda. As good as Belt? No, I don’t think so. But way cheaper and requiring less of a commitment.

But hey, rumors are rumors. Let a thousand flowers bloom.