Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#266 Zack Wheeler

#266 Zack Wheeler
First impression of what’s going on: Like earlier with the Ernesto Frieri of the Angels, I think Wheeler is sporting an alternate jersey. And like most of the cards this year so far, cropped too close. Eventually I might stop mentioning it, but in fairness to the cards I've already dinged on it, it’ll still get counted. Although the Future Stars logo isn't very legible, Wheeler is one of 15 players in Series 1 to get it on his card.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets in action against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on June 30, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Nationals defeated the Mets 13-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Reality of the Photo: Yep, plenty of uncropped elbow in the original photo and the ball/hand doesn't have to be obscured by the Topps logo. Getty hasn't been real specific with the pitchers on their captions as to the batter or situation.  But it does let me know that this was a 13-2 drubbing. This won’t be good for Wheeler. Let’s go to the BOXSCORE to see just how bad it was.

Well, it looks like most of the runs came late in the game, probably off the bullpen. I’d be surprised if Wheeler made it much past those first five runs. And if he did, certainly not all the way to the 8th when the Nationals unleashed a half dozen more runs.

So Wheeler did make it a little further but started to get into trouble in the 5th and got the hook. Wheeler was involved in all five of the Top 5 Plays, although as a pitcher, that’s rarely a good thing. Case in point:

Another thing that caught my attention about this game, and it has nothing to do with Wheeler or this card. Former Cub, Anthony Recker pitched the 9th inning. And that’s only notable because, with the Cubs, Recker was a catcher. He must have gotten some whiplash from his inning though as you’ll see from the inning summary:

Walk. Home Run. And then three fly balls hit to the outfield. Luckily, they stayed in the field of play. I don’t know how hard they were hit, but with the wind on any given day at Wrigley Field, those could have been gone!

Back to Zack Wheeler. The Mets uniforms were one of seven they used in 2013. See the chart below courtesy of sportslogos.net for the results while wearing this one.

And Rawlings is getting a little Free Advertising with two prominent logos on Wheeler’s glove. And I guess he’s advertising himself too as his name is written on the glove.

On to the back:

Rookie Fact: Zack is the only Mets rookie to have won his first five road decisions.

Aha! The bludgeoning at the hands of the Nationals was a home game. Sorry season ticket holders, in 2014, Wheeler is only pitching on the road!

The blurb mentions that the Mets won 10 of Wheeler’s first 14 starts. By the end of the season, they had still only won 10 of his eventual 17 starts. It doesn't mention in the five games that Wheeler is credited with “losing” that the Mets scored two runs twice, one run twice and were shutout the last one.

Yes, there was the lopsided game against the Nats depicted on the card, but how about some run support, Mets?!

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: #266
Player Name: Zack Wheeler
Team: New York Mets
Position: Pitcher
Game Date: June 30, 2013
Opponent: Washington Nationals
Stadium: Citi Field
Division: National League East
Home/Away: Home
Outcome of the game: 13-2, Nationals over the Mets, Loss for the player depicted
Alternate/Throwback Jersey: Yes
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Birthdate: 5/30/1990
Birthplace: Georgia
Cameos by: N/A
Photographer: Jim McIsaac
Niche collections this card could fit into: Free Advertising, Future Stars, Alternate Jersey, Partial Southpaw, Former First Round Pick

My Grade: I started out thinking this card would be a dud. Bad crop, boring photo, dud of a game. I think I've seen cards of his in the Pro Debut set but I’ll admit, I've only heard of Zack Wheeler in passing. No appearances against the Cubs last year. After going further into his season, I’d definitely take him on the Cubs.

But that doesn't really have anything to do with the card itself. It does fit into a few of the niche collections to save it from mediocrity of a C. But only barely. Final grade is a B-.

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