Philadelphia Phillies have Cy Young candidate in Zack Wheeler

Aug 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws to the Washington Nationals during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws to the Washington Nationals during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Zack Wheeler, they had hoped for another top of the rotation arm to pair with Aaron Nola. Wheeler had displayed flashes of being that pitcher with the Mets, but his injury history, he had been unable to reach his potential. The Phillies were clearly gambling that better health would lead to better results.

That has certainly been the case thus far. While Nola has struggled with consistency this year, Wheeler has emerged as the ace of the staff. His presence has helped a struggling Phillies’ rotation, as they have that stopper in place.

Zack Wheeler could bring some hardware to the Philadelphia Phillies

Wheeler has impressed thus far in 2021. He has posted a 9-6 record, but his numbers are far beyond his win total. Over the course of his 147 innings entering Friday, he had posted a 2.57 ERA and a 1.034 WHiP, striking out 170 batters with just 33 walks. Even more impressively, Wheeler has done a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the yard, having allowed just ten homers.

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He has been more than those numbers as well. Wheeler leads the majors in innings this year, helping to keep the ball from a questionable Phillies bullpen. He also leads the National League with 170 strikeouts and has posted a 5.7 bWAR, trailing only Shohei Ohtani amongst MLB players.

As it currently stands, the NL Cy Young race is wide open. Jacob deGrom, who had been the clear frontrunner for both the Cy Young and MVP awards, is likely out until September. That absence will effectively remove him from the equation despite what had been a historic season.

This leaves an opening for Wheeler to take advantage of. While he may not generate the same support for the MVP award, he may be the current frontrunner for the Cy Young. If the Phillies can continue to rally in the standings, and find their way into the postseason, Wheeler may be bringing some hardware home.

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Zack Wheeler has been the best pitcher on the Philadelphia Phillies this year. If he continues at this pace, he may be considered the best in the NL as well.