If you are in need of some pitching, help is on the way, as the Pirates and Mets are calling up their top pitching prospects, Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler. Coming into the 2013 season, there were varying opinions on Pirates pitching prospect Gerrit Cole, but everyone was pretty high on Mets pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, and still are. I felt both would be called up this season, and felt Cole would be called up fairly early, but the Pirates have waited till June, and for good reason. I will get into the reasons shortly.
It was announced today that the Mets are targeting June 14th, next Friday vs the Cubs at Citifield for Wheeler's major league debut. Wheeler has pitched well this season, and considering he is pitching in Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League, his performance is even more amazing. Let's take a look at his stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
Pitching in one of the best hitters environments in the minors, Wheeler is 4-1 in 11 starts, with a 3.86 ERA, 1.303 WHIP and a rising K rate (9.1 K/9) in 58.1 innings of work. He has given up three runs or less in eight of his eleven starts this season.
Wheeler gets to face the Cubs next Friday at Citifield, but after that, he pitches on the road vs the Braves and White Sox, than back at home vs the Nationals. On the surface, pitching on the road is not usually a good thing for young starters, but Wheeler will face two of the top eleven teams in strikeouts in the Braves and White Sox. The Nationals rank 10th in strikeouts this season, so Wheeler has a really good chance at racking up some strikeouts in his first four starts.
Wheeler is a must add in all formats. I would not be surprised to see Wheeler performing better than his AAA numbers upon his call up.
Saturday morning update: Wheeler will not be called up on Friday, and will make another start in AAA after his Friday night start didn't go as well. Tentative new target date is Wednesday June 19th in Atlanta.
Cole is a different story, in my opinion. I liked him plenty coming into the season, and even looked to trade for him in the offseason, but he has struggled in AAA thus far. Frankly, I am a bit surprised with the move by the Pirates.
The Pirates announced earlier today that they will call up Cole to replace Wandy Rodriguez in their starting rotation, and he is slated to make his major league debut vs the Giants at home next Tuesday. Let's take a look at Cole's stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
As you can see, Cole has struggled with his command this season, after dominating High A and AA last season. His walk rate has increased from 3.5 BB/9 to 3.7 BB/9, while his strikeout rate has plummeted from 9.2 K/9 to 6.2 K/9. But, he has maintained a steady HR/9 (0.5 HR/9) and hitters are struggling to hit him, as his hits per nine innings has dropped from 8.2 H/9 to 5.8 H/9.
Cole's first four starts don't appear to be that bad at all, as after facing the Giants, he gets the Dodgers at home, the Angels on the road and the Brewers at home. Both the Dodgers and Brewers rank in the bottom third in runs scored this season, and rank in the bottom half in strikeouts, so his strikeout totals may suffer early on.
Cole is more of a must add in NL-only leagues for me right now, and a marginal add in mixed leagues. His name value exceeds my expectations for him upon his call up.