Like most baseball enthusiasts I watched Zack Wheeler pitch against the Braves. He has an easy delivery and hides the ball well. In the first inning his fastball sat in the upper 90s (97-98 mph), but after that inning it sat 95-96 mph. The fastball has good late movement and has a lot of late life. The biggest concern I had was the lack of command of all of his pitches (fastball, slider, changeup and curveball); it looked as though he wasn’t closing his front shoulder in his delivery. According to Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus he rated the curveball as plus pitch with “heavy depth/tight rotation.” Yesterday the slider looked like the best pitch as he was able to throw it for strikes more often. Both the slider and curveball flashed plus, but he was never able to command them; the heat map of the pitch frequency can be found below. Overall, he has the raw ingredients to be a number one starter, but he’s far from being that guy right now. For fantasy, he’s a top 50-55 starting pitcher so he should be added in all leagues. Remember, he plays on one of the worst teams in the league and will likely not receive a lot of run support. If you own him, I suggest trading for him for a top 20-30 starting pitcher because that is the perceived value of him right now among a good portion of the fantasy community.
Tom Wilhelmsen at Baseball Prospectus Wheeler’s best secondary offering is the curveball, which has an opportunity to be a 7 pitch (on the 20-80 scouting scale) with “heavy depth/tight rotation.” His best secondary pitch was the slider as he was able to throw more strikes with it. Overall, the slider and curveball flashed a lot of promise, but most of the time they were not thrown for strikes consistently, which is why he had five walks. In the last 2-3 innings the hitters were looking for fastballs and started to time the fastball, which limited his effectiveness. Basically, he’s not a finished product and has a long ways to go before he starts to dominate or be very good. In terms of his fantasy value I don’t know if he’ll stay in the rotation because after the game the Mets optioned him to Triple-A; the Mets broadcasters noted that it’s possible that since he’s the 26th player he could still be eligible to take his next turn with the Mets on Tuesday. Assuming he’s in the majors the rest of the year I would say he’s a top 50-55 pitcher, which means he should be added in all formats. If I owned him, I would trade him because I bet you could get a top 20-30 pitcher for him. blew another lead, allowing a home run to Albert Pujols. In the tenth inning Yoervis Medina saved the game. Wilhelmsen is not the closer and the incumbent closer, Carter Capps has pitched like crap so it looks as though the Mariners are going to go with a closer by committee. If I was going to own a Mariners reliever in the short term I would want Oliver Perez; for the rest of the year I want Wilhelmsen.
Lastly, I want to talk about Esmil Rogers of the Toronto Blue Jays. With the Blue Jays desperate for starting pitching, they’ve allowed Rogers to make three starts: Rangers, @Rangers and Rockies. In this small sample he has a 2.04 ERA, 0.85 WHIP with a strikeout rate of 18.2 percent and has only walked four batters in 17.2 innings. Normally most analysts may chalk this up to a small sample size, but Rogers looks to be legit. Before he entered the starting rotation, Rogers learned a two-seam fastball/power sinker; it’s thrown in the low, to mid-90s with excellent movement, good depth and heavy sink, which allows him to get on the hands of right handed batters and to pitch away to lefties; this allows him to generate a lot of weak contact and ground balls (51 percent ground ball rate). He’s most likely available in all formats and he’s a must add in all formats.