Zack Wheeler Might Be Best Pitcher Available
The Philadelphia Phillies are apparently punting on the 2021 season and their window to compete. Instead, they’re now looking to break it down and start anew.
Now, there are conflicting reports about whether that will include Zack Wheeler. Despite reports the Phillies were looking to shop him, team owner John Middleton saying, “If they offered me Babe Ruth, I wouldn’t trade him.”
Putting the hyperbole aside, it seems like the Phillies are looking to rebuild claiming poverty. If Wheeler is indeed available, he becomes the best pitching option available.
Yes, that includes Trevor Bauer.
In 2018, Wheeler finally put the injuries behind him to have a breakout season. Over the next two years, he proved that breakout was real.
From 2018 – 2020, Wheeler has had a 3.34 FIP which is the 14th best in baseball. Wheeler has a 27.5% hard hit rate which is second best in baseball. That is part of the reason Wheeler has a 9.4% HR/FB which is fourth best in baseball. Breaking this all down, Wheeler has emerged as an ace level pitcher.
By contrast, Bauer’s 3.38 FIP is a shade behind Wheeler. Bauer’s 37.1% hard hit rate is just 51st. Bauer’s HR/FB is 11.8% which is 13th. Yes, Bauer won the Cy Young, but over the relevant time span, he’s a clear step behind Wheeler.
That’s magnified by level of competition. As previously noted, Bauer has had the benefit of routinely facing terrible offensive teams. It’s been a much different story for Wheeler.
Over the past three years, the Braves are the eighth best offensive team in baseball by wRC+. The Nationals are a hair behind at 10th. Bauer hasn’t faced any teams near that level.
As you continue to break it down, Wheeler has been better than Bauer. According to speculation, he’s going to cost a lot less.
Wheeler has four years $96.5 million ($24.1 million AAV) remaining on his contract, which is quite a discount for his services. According to MLB Trade Rumors projections, Bauer is going to receive a contract with a $30+ million AAV.
If you’re the Mets looking for another starter for the rotation, there is no doubt Wheeler is the better option. Not only does he have the better stats against a higher level of competition, but he’s proven he could do it with the Mets.
With that being the case, the Mets should be pursuing Wheeler much more heavily I than Bauer. The only question right now is just how much the Phillies would want in return. That is, if the Phillies are indeed dumb enough to trade Wheeler.