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4 weeks agoNew Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler has tantalized with upside ever since the Mets acquired him in 2011 but couldn't seem to stay healthy or put together a full season of dominance. It was more of the same in 2019, which saw him finish 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA and 1.26 WHIP but a 23.6 K%. In many ways, it was a worse year for him than 2018. In addition to a worse ERA and WHIP, he saw a jump in xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA, while giving up almost 7% more hard contact. All of that points to regression; however, a closer look seems to suggest he was unlucky. His BABIP was over .030 points higher, but his O-Swing% and SwStr% are nearly identical to 2018. More confusingly, his Whiff% and PutAway% improved on his fastball, sinker, and slider, which should indicate a jump in performance on all three pitches; yet, they all had a worse pVAL than 2018. It seems as though Wheeler was essentially the same pitcher as he was in 2018, if not more effective in certain areas, but gave up slightly more good contact. Since the underlying metrics don't point to a clear reason for that, and he's moved to a team with a better defense behind him (not to mention he gets to face the Mets now), it's not unreasonable to expect Wheeler to return to his 2018 numbers, which makes him a worthy gamble at an ADP of 118 after arms he should be going before, like Madison Bumgarner, Dinelson Lamet, Mike Soroka, and Corey Kluber.--Eric Samulski - RotoBaller
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