Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Where Was Wheeler In '98 & '99?

Mets rookie pitcher Zack Wheeler continued his losing ways dominance over the Atlanta Braves last night in defeating the Braves 5-3.

Wheeler pitched 6.2 innings, and left with a 4-0 lead with bases loaded. Carlos Torres came in and promptly gave up a double to Andrelton Simmons, which cleared the bases and cut the Mets lead to 4-3. Ike Davis hit an absolute moonshot in the Mets 8th which landed about 20 rows deep in the Pepsi Porch to secure the Mets win.

It was nice to see Mets starting catcher, rookie Travis d'Arnaud, end his 0-10 slump to get his first Major League hit, a double, in the 8th.

While watching the game last night, I couldn't help think what if Zack Wheeler was with the Mets in 1998 and 1999? Wheeler increased his lifetime record to 3-0 against the Braves. The Mets were never able to beat the Braves during their best runs in the late '90's, and the same was true in the early part of 2000's. Back then it seemed like Oliver Perez was the only one who could beat the Braves.

If Wheeler was with the Mets back then, would they, could they have beaten the Braves in the post season? Figuring he would get at least two starts against them, that would have gone a long way towards breaking the Braves physical and mental dominance over the Mets. Wheeler is on pace to go 50-0 against the Braves, figuring 5 starts/year over a 10 year career...just think what that would have done for the Mets in the 90's and early 2000's? Would we have beaten the Braves in '98 and '99?

The Mets have no chance in catching the Braves this season, considering they are 17.5 games behind, but watching the way the two young studs, Harvey and Wheeler, have been throwing, along with an emerging (and unfortunately injured) Bobby Parnell as closer, this team is starting to resemble the Mets of 1983-1984 when they had a young Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Ron Darling - along with young fiery players like Wally Backman and (later) Lenny Dykstra.

This team isn't yet where the teams of '83 and '84 were, due to a lack of young position players, but with d'Arnaud seemingly being the starting catcher now and Lagares with a stranglehold on CF, pieces do appear to be falling into place.

Granted, Wheeler was only about 8 when the Mets started challenging the Braves, his hometown team, so we'll never know what would have been. But, with a nice young nucleus of starting pitchers and with some more talent on the way (den Dekker? Syndergaard? Nieuwenhuis?), might we be in the preliminary stages of seeing something great?  Maybe, but I still can't help but wonder what would've been if Wheeler was with the Mets in the late '90's and early 2000's...

Source: ESPN (Photos)

No comments: