Wheeler Showing He Is Worth Every Penny

By Greg Hall, Sports Talk Philly editor

When Zack Wheeler signed a five-year $118 million deal with the Phillies this offseason, the fan base thought he could be solid, but potentially overpriced addition to the rotation.

He has been worth every penny.

The Phillies are 3-2 in Wheeler's five starts, but he has given the team a chance to win every time out. In fact, the club's bullpen blew a lead in the two losses. Neither of those hit Wheeler's line, as he is 3-0 this season with a 2.76 ERA, a sparkling 171 ERA+, 1.10 WHIP, 20 strikeouts and only six walks across 32 2/3 innings.

A WAR of 1.7 ranks Wheeler fourth among National League pitchers, trailing only LHP Max Fried, teammate Aaron Nola and RHP Zac Gallen.

He is inducing the weakest contact of his career while missing barrels at a 98 percent clip, according to Baseball Savant.

These numbers are, in large part, due to his dominant sinker. He is throwing it just over 21.6 percent of the time, averaging 96.8 mph and producing some major results.

Wheeler has induced six ground ball double plays this season and ranks 13th in baseball in ground ball to fly ball ratio.

Opposing batters are hitting just .222 against his sinker, compared to .298 a season ago.

The 30-year-old right hander has gone at least 5 2/3 innings in all of his starts, showing his durability and efficiency.

His success is not just coming against right handed hitting, either. Wheeler is holding opposing lefties to just a .232 batting average in 56 at-bats.

He will get a chance to go 4-0 Friday night to kickoff a three game set against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves with the Phillies just two games out of second place in the division and currently holding the eighth playoff spot.

They will need Wheeler to continue his success if they want to make a real postseason push.