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Wheeler makes progress on IL as trade deadline nears

Zack Wheeler is making strides while on the IL as the Mets have to decide whether to trade him or keep him.

On Friday, Zack Wheeler took another step in making his way back to the Mets in their time of need. Wheeler was able to toss 13 pitches from a mound for the first time since July 7th. The Mets announced on July 15th that the right-hander was placed on the 10-day IL due to shoulder fatigue while gearing up for what was to be his start against Minnesota the following day.

Wheeler has had his share of ups and downs in 2019, putting up a 4.69 ERA and a 6-6 record over 19 starts. In his last start against the Phillies on July 7th, Wheeler only made it through five innings, giving up six runs on eight hits, leading to an 8-3 loss for the Mets. In 2018, he found his stride during the second half of the season, finishing with a 12-7 record after pitching in 29 games and securing a 3.31 ERA with 179 strikeouts and 55 walks.

Wheeler’s move to the IL could not have come at a worse time for the Mets as Wheeler was a topic of conversation during trade talks. As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, it is imperative that Wheeler’s time on the IL not be extended. Since his placement on the IL was retroactive to July 12th, the earliest that Wheeler would be ready to return would be July 23rd. If healthy, Wheeler could possibly get two more starts before the clock strikes midnight for the Mets.

Before the injury, the Yankees and the Brewers reportedly showed interest in Wheeler. Those talks may now be obsolete or rely solely on how Wheeler performs after making a return before the deadline. If he is not traded, Wheeler will become a free agent at the end of the season. The Mets will have to make a qualifying offer if they want a chance at receiving a compensation pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. If Wheeler is to stick around for the rest of this season, fans can only hope that he will be able to provide support for the rotation as the team continues to struggle to stay alive in the NL Wild Card race.

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