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2020 Player Reviews: Zack Wheeler

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Finally the Phillies have a reliable second starter

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Numbers:

4-2, 2.92 ERA, 2.9 WAR, 53K, 16 BB, 71.0 IP, 156 ERA+, 3HR, 12th place in NL Cy Young Voting (one 5th place vote)

The Good:

After signing a five-year contract last offseason, Wheeler’s first season in a Phillies uniform was exactly what the Phillies needed. In the free agency market, Wheeler was considered a step behind top names like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg missed much of the 2020 season with a hand injury and Cole’s 2020 numbers were relatively comparable to Wheeler’s, with the exception of strikeouts. The Phillies won six of Wheeler’s eleven starts, including five out of seven at home. He turned in seven quality starts.

Wheeler’s walk rate decreased from 2019 to a career-low 2.0/9 and his homerun rate was also a career-low at 0.4/9, the best in the National League. He only gave up three home runs. His ground ball percentage reached a career-high in 2020 at 56%.

The Bad:

Wheeler’s strikeout ratio in 2020 was the lowest of his career. It didn’t hurt him too much over the course of the season, but hopefully that aspect of his game will return over the next four seasons. Wheeler also missed a start at the end of the season due to a bizarre fingernail injury involving his pants. As his brother clarified, it was because of a pre-existing nail issue.

The Future:

Wheeler had surgery in October to address the fingernail injury, so hopefully that won’t be an issue going into the future. Wheeler is signed through the 2024 season and will hopefully continue to provide the stability and reliability that the Phillies need behind Aaron Nola.