There are a lot of pitchers having major success across the league this year. After a few years of batter-friendly baseball, it appears as though the tide has swung back in favor of pitchers. Currently, a whopping 29 pitchers boasting a sub-3.00 ERA (minimum 1.0 IP per team game) Furthermore, over half of these pitchers sport a sub-2.50 ERA, highlighting just how unhittable certain pitchers have been this year. As our attention turns slowly towards the all-star game, Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler stands out as one of the most underrated candidates.
Superstar hurlers Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, and Trevor Bauer have been their usual, dominant selves. Meanwhile, veteran journeymen Kevin Gausman (7-0, 1.27 ERA), Lance Lynn (7-1, 1.23 ERA), and Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.07 ERA) are experiencing resurgent seasons in their respective careers.
Wheeler, 31, has been played like a man possessed so far this season. The former first-rounder currently leads the National League in strikeouts with 112 and his 2.29 ERA is top 15 in the majors. Through 13 starts, Wheeler has registered five 10+ strikeout games, four of which have come in his last five starts.
Having changed his approach on the mound a bit in his second season in Philly, opting to throw his slider more than his notorious sinker, Wheeler has blossomed into an ace for the Phils. He is striking out batters at the highest rate in his career while simultaneously allowing some of the lowest hard-contact in his career.
While Aaron Nola sorts out his uncharacteristic struggles, it has been Wheeler keeping the Phillies afloat in a floundering NL East. Virtually all of his outings result in quality starts and he has yet to allow more than four runs in a game all season.
His masterful, lengthy starts help hide what can only be referred to as a shaky bullpen, thus giving the Phillies a chance to win. With more run support, Wheeler could easily have more than the four wins he boasts in 2021. Still, the current NL strikeout leader is a logical candidate to represent the Phillies at the All-Star Game in Colorado.
A few more wins under his belt would only strengthen his case, but even at the pace he is at, Wheeler should make the all-star roster. His strikeout numbers are better than that of aces Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, and Max Scherzer while carrying a lower WHIP than former all-stars Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Yu Darvish.
He may be considered more of a late-bloomer than some of his peers, but Zack Wheeler deserves all-star recognition this season.
You can vote for Wheeler here to show your support of the emerging Phillies ace! The MLB All-Star Weekend is just a month away so be sure to get your votes in now. Up to five voting ballots can be submitted per day, according to the official MLB website.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire