Zack Wheeler continued what’s been a dominant start to 2021 Sunday, striking out 12 and allowing just one run in 7 1/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox, a game that the Phillies would win 6-2.
On the season, Wheeler is now 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA, 2.56 FIP and 2.2 fWAR. The 30-year-old righty is tied with two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom for the second highest fWAR among pitchers, trailing only Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees.
The Phillies unearthed perhaps an even more telling statistic in terms of how excellent Wheeler has been thus far:
Per @EliasSports, Wheels is the first Phillies starting pitcher with both a sub-2.50 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP in his first 10 starts of a season since Roy Halladay in 2011.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 24, 2021
Pretty good company. pic.twitter.com/0k0UqYEmDz
While 2010 was Halladay’s most memorable season as a Phillie, he was perhaps even more dominant in 2011. During his second season in red pinstripes, Halladay set career lows in ERA (2.35) and FIP (2.20), while posting a career-high 8.7 fWAR.
Halladay finished runner-up to Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2011, though we’ve argued in the past that the voters may have gotten that one wrong. We also ranked Halladay’s 2011 campaign as the best individual season that a Phillie had during the 2010s.
Expecting Wheeler to match or top what Halladay did in 2011 probably isn’t fair. However, we wrote last week that Wheeler has established himself as a legitimate candidate to make his first All-Star team. And depending upon how deGrom does in his return from the injured list, it’s not out of the question that Wheeler could start the game for the National League.
Girardi on Wheeler
I asked Joe Girardi, who spent 15 years as a big league catcher, what it would have been like to catch for Wheeler.
“I would love to catch him – not now, but when I was younger. He’s got so many weapons and he has really good command. He can dot a fastball down and away, and sometimes I’m not so sure how much that is a focus in power guys. But I would consider him a true power guy, and he has that ability.
“He has the ability to run it off the plate in to right-handers and away from left-handers and get some pretty funny swings. He’s got a good change-up…he’s got good arm action…he’s got a good slider and he’s got a really good curveball that he doesn’t use a ton, but there are times he pulls it out to finish an at-bat. So, I would have loved to catch him, because I think you can be really creative with him.”
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