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.
The World Series is not just about the baseball. It’s about the bigger-than-usual stars singing the National Anthem, the more-famous-than-usual people throwing out the first pitch and all of the assorted to-do which surrounds the ballgames. Here is that sort of stuff for Game 1 and Game 2 in Boston.
- Carl Yastrzemski will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 1. Yastrzemski also threw out the first pitch of Game 1 in 2004, 2007 and 2013. The Red Sox won each of those games and each of those World Series so, yeah, go with what works, right?
- Members of the 2004 World Series Champions will throw the ceremonial first pitch of Game 2. It doesn’t say which members, so maybe my dream of Manny Ramirez doing it will work out after all. Hey, he played for the Dodgers too, so let’s make this happen, OK?
- Singer-songwriter James Taylor will perform the National Anthem prior to the start of Game 1. This morning Peter Gammons tweeted that Taylor’s family helped build Fenway Park. Let’s file that under “interesting, but not so interesting that it’s really worth tracking down to confirm, so why not believe it?” Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.
- For Game 2 the National Anthem will be performed by the Boston Pops, with the Tanglewood Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Chorus doing the singing. The Boston Pops are conducted by Keith Lockhart, who was a career .287/.354/.425 hitter in 37 postseason games with the Atlanta Braves. I mean, at least I’m pretty sure it’s the same Keith Lockhart. Again: not interesting enough to check so, like Gammons’ thing about James Taylor, let’s assume I’m right about this.