ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin is reporting that LHP Jonathon Niese has been scratched from his scheduled start this Saturday due to shoulder tendinitis. RHP Collin McHugh will start in the veteran southpaw’s place against the Miami Marlins, a chance that many believe should be going to top prospect Zack Wheeler.
McHugh pitched brilliantly for the Las Vegas 51s this season, pitching to a 2.74 ERA in eight starts. He’s not a heavy strikeout pitcher, but he’s most effective when he limits his walks and he managed to do so this season, allowing only 1.64 BB/9 amidst a hitter-friendly environment.
Niese’s injury won’t be sending him to the disabled list, but it’s curious as to why Wheeler’s contract hasn’t been purchased in lieu of his injury. If the Mets were truly intent on fielding the best possible team (as they insist that Super-Two status isn’t prohibitive of them making moves), bringing Wheeler to a pitcher-friendly Miami ballpark against a meager offensive team to make his big league debut would seemingly be the perfect fit. He’d be away from the New York media, barren of the national spotlight, and under the best possible conditions to succeed. If the worry is that Niese will be back after missing only one start, there’s always room for expansion if Dillon Gee continues to perform poorly.
The question that’s raised here is the sincerity in which Wheeler’s promotion is being handled. Many in the organization have cited that he’s ready and only needed “three-to-four” more minor league starts before getting the call, but now that the opportunity has risen he’s not getting the opportunity.
From a business perspective, it certainly makes sense. From a subjective stance, not starting Wheeler on Sunday is not in line with the organization’s public strategy.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron