Phillies have Mets to thank for Zack Wheeler’s Cy Young season

On Roy Halladay day, Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler honored the late, great pitcher with a gem of his own.

Wheeler, facing his former team in the New York Mets, completed a sweep of the Phillies’ division rival. With the win, the Phillies have vaulted themselves into first place in the NL East by 2.5 games, a far cry from just a month ago.

The Phillies recent surge has been paired with a Mets collapse of sorts. While there’s still plenty of time left for these roles to reverse themselves back into place (from a Mets perspective, at least), it would appear the Phillies’ high-priced additions in Wheeler, Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto and more are finally all clicking at the right time.

Wheeler, for one, has the Mets to thank for his resurgence in Philadelphia.

The Mets gift-wrapped Zack Wheeler to the Phillies in free agency

Two offseasons ago, the Mets had every opportunity to re-sign Wheeler to a high-priced deal, but didn’t see his potential as a future NL Cy Young candidate. Instead, Wheeler spurned New York and went to the Mets’ division rival, where he has since molded himself into the pitcher he is today.

Wheeler had a solid shortened season in 2020, pitching to the tune of a 2.92 ERA in his first year in Philadelphia. He’s proven that wasn’t a fluke, and is arguably now the NL Cy Young favorite with a 9-6 record, paired with a 2.57 ERA and 1.034 WHIP.

After signing with the Phillies in the winter of 2019, Wheeler had this to say about the Mets’ stance.

“It was basically just crickets when I did (get an offer from the Phillies),” Wheeler said. “It’s how they roll.”

Then-GM Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t shy away from Wheeler’s challenge, either:

“The projections we had for Zack—both short-term and long-term—didn’t quite match up to the market he was able to enjoy.”

Yeah…about that.

Wheeler’s five-year, $118 million contract now looks like a bargain. Meanwhile, the Mets are left wondering ‘what if?’