Many times, reality doesn't reach the hype. We've been spoiled by Matt Harvey, who seems to reach the hype every time, and has done so in a relatively short period of time. Zack Wheeler hasn't even reached Harvey's amount of service time, so to think that Wheeler was going to break through and be dominant and reach his hype after three starts is quite ridiculous.
Wheeler only lasted four and 2/3's against Washington on Sunday, giving up five runs on six hits and two walks. He struggled. It happened, case closed. No shame in struggling. Here's what worries me: Since his first start against Atlanta, which was a good one, they've been tinkering with his mechanics while not completely solving the pitch tipping problem, as the Nationals were laying off the junk and teeing off on the fastball.
I don't think a great deal of Dan Warthen's complete body of work since he's taken over as pitching coach. And I'm not going to give him credit for a guy like Matt Harvey. (Look somebody in the eye and tell them honestly that Warthen made Harvey into the pitcher he is.) To be fair, Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner have straightened themselves out nicely under his tutelage. But Wheeler is different because he's a little more important. He can't continue to tip his pitches when everybody else in the world sees it, because the pitching coach has to be the first one to see it. Wheeler struggling isn't a big deal. Wheeler struggling because of something a pitching coach should pick up on might be a big deal. While I can't be 100% sure that pitch tipping is the problem (it very well might not be), this is one that Warthen, and Terry Collins, need to get right because the stakes are too high.
Of course, you can't cut a guy for struggling in his third major league start. You can cut a reliever who can't get through an eighth inning without the world collapsing. And that's what I hope happens to Brandon Lyon. He gave up six runs in two thirds of an inning in the eighth, causing Collins to bring Scott Rice into a 10-0 game, as if he doesn't pitch enough. Lyon is a liability (Lyonbility?) And dare I say that he's starting to occupy the same living space in our heads as D.J. Carrasco. Think about this: In the ninth inning, Anthony Recker came in to pitch to save the bullpen. He gave up one of the longest home runs in Citi Field history to Ian Desmond. And he still had a better inning than the guy who pitches for a living.
But there was a good development in the Mets 13-2 loss: And that's David Aardsma. You know I wanted the Mets to send a little message after David Wright was plunked on Saturday. Well Wright hit the deck again during Sunday's game as Gio Gonzalez brushed him back, and Aardsma decided enough was enough and put one in Desmond's back in the sixth. It shouldn't have taken so long, but I'm glad it's done. And Aardsma deserves a lot of credit for that. He also deserves a lot of credit for the job he's done bringing some credibility to the Mets bullpen since he's been here. Somebody other than Bobby Parnell pitching well from that group is also something long overdue, and needs to continue if the Mets are going to bounce back from this Nationals series and play like they have on the road recently.
But most importantly, now the rest of the league which has been pitching Wright pretty aggressively over the last few years has learned that the Mets aren't going to let that go 100% of the time anymore. Oh they might still let it go regularly, but at least there's a seed of doubt. And you watch, Wright constantly hitting the deck as he's done is going to slow down a lot. And that's why you protect your teammates.