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Zack Wheeler puts Phillies one game from World Series return

PHOENIX — Chase Field’s midfield scoreboard often evoked “confusion,” and for two days the home team and crowd followed suit. The upstart Diamondbacks pulled away to an unlikely tie in the National League Championship Series after a loud late game. heroic act. However, in the crucial Game 5 on Saturday night, the familiar October duo of Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, in addition to Phillies ace (former Met) Zack Wheeler, calmed things down considerably, and the game progressed. returned normalcy and predictability to the

Thanks to Wheeler, one of the best pitchers to play in the Big 1, the Phillies beat the underdog Diamondbacks 6-1, thanks to Wheeler (more on that later), whom the Mets’ doctors recommended not signing. After winning, I was put back in a super difficult position. They head to Citizens Bank Park, an unfriendly area of ​​Philadelphia, and lose the game 3-2 to a team that has an October record of 28-11 at its home park. We need two wins against them.

The Phillies may also have the best free agent market in baseball, and the five-year, $118 million contract they signed with Wheeler last winter seemed expensive at the time, but it ended up being He became one of the best starting pitcher contracts. He’s with Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Max Scherzer (the Nationals version, of course).

But let’s be fair. You never know how these things will turn out. Fellow former Met Taijuan Walker signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Phillies, but despite a strong first half, he was demoted to mop-up duty in October.

Zack Wheeler held the Phillies to just one run in seven innings in Game 5 of the NLCS, helping them to a 6-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.
AP

Regardless, Wheeler was the best antidote to what briefly plagued the Phillies, becoming a shutdown starter a day after the bullpen was basically empty and Phillies hitters were slightly off their usual underwhelming outings. Wheeler’s great seven innings was just what the doctor ordered as both teams prepare to return to Philadelphia for more mayhem (the mess here was bad, but beyond that mayhem) ). The Diamondbacks aren’t intimidated and are very resilient, but if you watch closely, it looked like the Philadelphia team was getting back to its all-around game.

Schwarber and Harper, two of Philadelphia’s more outstanding free-agent signings, hit two monster home runs in the sixth inning off Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen, and the Phillies beat opponents 22-0 this October. It was surpassed by 5. Their only real weakness is timing. The final 15 long balls were solo shots.

Bryce Harper hit a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Phillies’ victory in Game 5 of the National League CS.
AP

Wheeler didn’t need much help, and his $24.5 million salary is only 59 percent of the Mets’ salaries of Justin Verlander and Scherzer, who are still on the move to other playoff teams, but I I’m not here to bash the Mets. I understood it three years ago when the Mets decided not to make an effort to keep Zack Wheeler as a free agent.

At that point, Wheeler had a player with a fairly average ERA over 100. Among the medical personnel who raised red flags on his arm was the Mets’ doctor. The $118 million cost seemed like a lot (though at least the White Sox would have bid more, and many other teams were in the running as well). And of course, Steve Cohen was known only as a stock trader and art collector at the time, so the Mets’ budget wasn’t limitless.

The Mets weren’t necessarily thinking some crazy, cheap idea that Wheeler wasn’t a $100 million pitcher. The final numbers seemed surprising at the time, but we believe this is a feat of sophisticated analysis. Numerical and analytical clues, which observed speeds reaching 100 miles per hour at times, suggested there was more material in the tank.

Wheeler and the Phillies came together primarily because he wanted to live near New Jersey (his wife’s family lives there). Queens is a little closer to New Jersey, so it makes sense that the Mets had a good chance. However, because of his medical history (he had undergone Tommy John surgery), Mets medical officials recommended against surgery, so the matter was taken out of the hands of Mets baseball officials.

Kyle Schwarber celebrates after hitting a solo home run and the Phillies’ victory in Game 5 of the National League CS.
Getty Images

It’s hard to predict these things, but as it turns out, Wheeler has proven to be one of the healthiest and most robust pitchers in the majors since moving 90 miles south. The Phillies were as right as anyone when it came to these big contracts, and Wheeler showed from almost the start that he was nothing short of one of the best free agent signings of all time. In three seasons in Philadelphia, Wheeler ranks fourth in innings pitched with .629¹/₃ (behind Gerrit Cole, Sandy Alcantara, and Aaron Nola), fourth in starting ERA of 3.08, fifth in WHIP with 1.06, and opponents’ batting average of 1.06. He was 9th in the league with a batting average of .224 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5:1, which was 5th.

He got even better in the postseason. His 0.70 ERA in October was the best ever for a pitcher who faced at least 200 batters, just ahead of the great Mariano Rivera’s 0.72. In other words, he outperformed the great Yankees and pitched the Phillies to within one game of the World Series with the Mets.

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