PHOTO CREDIT: Getty images
When Sandy Alderson traded Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants in 2011, it signaled the end of an Era in New York.
Carlos Beltran was part of a Met team who many expected to be the toast of the National League for the better part of a decade. Instead, inconceivably, they reached the postseason only once.
In exchange for the center fielder, the Giants sent Zack Wheeler to New York, a top rated pitching prospect.
The Mets were officially rebuilding. The team was looking towards the future, while fans were left wondering how a nucleus of José Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran only yielded a single trip to the playoffs.
Watching a team that is clearly rebuilding is an interesting phenomenon. Casual fans might never understand why someone would watch a team who is essentially out of contention on opening day.
Watching players develop into stars is an amazing experience. Watching a plan come to fruition can be extremely satisfying.
After the Zack Wheeler acquisition, it was very lean times in Queens. Sure, you had the Johan Santana no-hitter, and an R.A Dickey Cy Young season, but there was very little to hang your hat on aside from that.
In other words, nothing was coming to fruition, and no one was developing into a star. There’s only so much Omar Quintinilla and Josh Satin a man can watch, after all.
That all changed on June 18, 2013.
The day had come. Zack Wheeler would be making his debut. A doubleheader was scheduled in Atlanta, and Wheeler would be starting the second game. The young right hander would have plenty of support in the stands, as he was born and raised in the state of Georgia.
Starting the first game would be another promising right hander, Matt Harvey.
Harvey made his debut at the end of the 2012 season. He was someone you could point to as a Met fan as someone who would be right in the middle of things going forward.
Wheeler was grabbing the headlines leading up to the games. Harvey who has a mean competitive streak, was determined to put himself on the back pages the next morning.
Harvey took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out 13 Braves. Wheeler was remarkable as well, pitching six scoreless innings.
The Mets would not be going to the playoffs in 2013. They would not be going to the playoffs in 2014 either. However, that day in June gave fans hope that a trip to the postseason wasn’t too far off.
The Amazin’ Mets did return to the postseason. They made it all the way to the World Series in 2015. They reached the Wildcard game in 2016.
Zack Wheeler was not on the postseason roster for either of those trips.
The man who was acquired to begin a rebuild, was unable to pitch when the rebuild had finally bore fruit. Wheeler was sidelined for the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Complications which arose during his rehab from the surgery caused him to miss the 2016 campaign.
Wheeler returned for the dreadful 2017 and 2018 seasons. They were such frustrating years that they had many fans petitioning for another rebuild.
2019 marks the final year Zack Wheeler is under the control of the Mets. It came as a surprise to many that he remained on the team past the trade deadline. The Mets opted to retain his services and make a run towards the postseason.
It is now September 15th. The Mets have made a run towards the postseason. Tonight they play what is arguably the biggest game of the season.
Can you guess who is pitching tonight?
That’s right, Zack Wheeler.
Tonight’s game will be played in prime time and will be nationally televised. Wheeler will pitch at home in what will likely be a sellout Citi Field crowd.
The Mets will take on a team tonight who have been the class of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Like the Mets, the Dodgers went through a rebuild of their own. They just did it a little differently. MLB forced the Dodger’s owner to sell the team. Hmmm…
Wheeler will take on one of the game’s best young arms in Walker Buehler.
Sounds like a playoff game to me!
No one knows what the future holds for Zack Wheeler. It’s very likely that he will be pitching in a different uniform next season.
Zack Wheeler will be pitching in a big game as the weather is starting to get a little cooler.
That’s what we all envisioned right?
Almost. We want to see him pitch in a big game as the leaves start to change colors. But, we are headed in the right direction.
Let’s go Zack!