Sunday, September 1, 2013

Further Continued Improvement

The Mets battered Washington and Dan Haren last night with the kind of attack that that has served them well, at least on nights when they've been able to generate lots of runs (which has, of course, been rare). Basically, they vultured Haren to death with a barrage of singles and doubles coming from just about every source. By time Haren departed with 2 out in the 3rd, he'd allowed hits to 9 of 12 batters, and 7 of them would end up scoring. The Mets led 8-0 after 3 innings and cruised the rest of the way to an 11-3 victory, thereby giving them a series win against a Washington team desperately trying to keep a slim chance at a Wildcard spot alive.

This outburst of offense came in support of Zack Wheeler, who continues to look great. I talked yesterday about how Dillon Gee has looked better and better as the season has gone on, and the same could be said of Wheeler, and probably even moreso.

It was expected that Wheeler, who lacked the overall polish and general attitude that his cohort Matt Harvey possessed, would take his lumps a bit more often than Harvey. And he has. He's had some outings that weren't very good at all, but rather than that being the norm, Wheeler has continued to improve to the point where it's almost expected that the Mets will get a good 6 solid innings out of him every time out. Last night was no different; given a big lead, Wheeler settled in and kept right on mowing down Nationals batters, allowing only 2 runs on 4 hits in his 6.2 innings. The 2 runs appeared to have been more of a hiccup than anything else.

Wheeler's been pulled rather randomly his last two outings, with 2 outs in the 7th inning, primarily due to pitch count and, more likely, the Mets reactionary nature to the Matt Harvey injury. Wheeler hasn't been too pleased about it, but better safe than sorry, I suppose. Wheeler has talked, of late, about being tired as the season wears on and he reaches his innings limit. I would suppose, though I'm not sure, that he's got 3-4 starts left in his season and then the Mets will shut him down. It would be nice to see him get to 10 wins before he's done, which is certainly possible given that last night's win was his 7th in 14 starts, a nice number and overall, the Mets have gone 10-4 in his starts. So even when he's not winning, he's leaving the Mets in position to win a game, which is probably more telling of the quality of his outings.

Point here is, even if the Mets lose Harvey for all of 2014, and we still won't know that for a few weeks at best, the Mets do remain in relatively good hands going forward. Wheeler's got what it takes to be successful at this level. And behind him, there are still some quality arms to keep things afloat.

Another one of those quality arms is on the mound tonight in Jonathon Niese, as the Mets make an asinine appearance on The Biggest Game In The Galaxy before a late-night trip to Good Ol' Atlanty to play an Afternoon game tomorrow.

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