FRIDAY: Wheeler will have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday or Wednesday, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. The surgery will be performed by Mets team doctor David Altchek.
MONDAY 10:26am: Alderson told reporters, including Marc Carig of Newsday, that the team’s belief is that Wheeler has suffered a full tear of the ligament (Twitter link). If that’s the case, it would only solidify the likelihood that he will undergo Tommy John surgery.
9:07am: An MRI taken on his right elbow revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament for Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, the team announced this morning. It seems almost inevitable then, that Wheeler is headed for Tommy John surgery, although he will first receive a second opinion, according to the team.
Losing Wheeler for the season would be a significant blow to a Mets team that many, including myself, have expected to contend for a Wild Card berth into the playoffs. The Mets projected to have a rotation of Wheeler, a healthy Matt Harvey, 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. However, with Wheeler likely shelved, it’ll be Dillon Gee sliding from the bullpen back into the starting rotation. The Mets have to be glad that they hung onto Gee, who was mentioned in trade rumors all offseason but never dealt.
Alderson’s acquisition of Wheeler — then a highly touted prospect with the Giants — in exchange for a half season of Carlos Beltran, has been hailed as one of the GM’s best moves, and with good reason. Wheeler surfaced with the Mets as a 23-year-old in 2013 and turned in 100 solid innings, and he reached 185 1/3 innings last year. Over his two seasons in Queens, Wheeler has worked to a 3.50 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate. Armed with a 95mph fastball and a pair of above-average breaking pitches, there was an expectation that Wheeler could take a step forward in 2015, creating a formidable trio atop the Mets’ rotation, alongside Harvey and deGrom.
From a service time standpoint, Wheeler will gain a full year of big league service on the 60-day DL, if he is to miss the entire year, but he should fall shy of Super Two distinction, as he’ll have two years, 98 days of service entering the 2016 season. The Mets control him through the 2019 season, but that does little to soften the blow of his absence from the rotation this coming season.
Top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who has seen his own name surface in trade rumors over the past year, figures to be even more untouchable now, as the likelihood that he pitches in the Mets’ rotation at some point in 2015 has now increased.