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The Phillies make a much-needed addition to the front of their rotation.
The Phillies have agreed to terms with free-agent starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, as The Athletic’s Marc Carig was the first to report on Wednesday. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for five years and $118 million:
The Phillies have reached an agreement with Zack Wheeler, sources tell @TheAthletic. The ex-Met stays in the NL East, and close to New Jersey, where Wheeler’s wife is from.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 4, 2019
Wheeler with #Phillies, per source: Five years, $118M
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
Wheeler, who has spent the entirety of his seven major-league seasons to date with the Mets, joins the division-rival Phillies and should be a key figure at the front of their rotation. While Aaron Nola is their best and most consistent starter, Wheeler should be a solid No. 2 and will take some of the pressure off of Jake Arrieta, who clearly is no longer the same pitcher he was when the Phillies signed him to a three-year, $75 million deal prior to the 2018 season, largely due to persistent injury concerns, including a bone spur in his right elbow that limited him significantly in 2019.
It’s fair to point out that Wheeler has dealt with injuries quite a bit himself, having missed the entirety of the 2015-16 seasons while spending time on the disabled/injured list in 2017 and ‘19. But aside from a rough ‘17 season, he has been pretty consistent when he’s been healthy, posting a 3.77 career ERA and a 1.29 WHIP over 126 career starts.
After a rough start (he had a 4.69 ERA prior to the All-Star break), Wheeler shined in the second half and finished with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP while averaging nine strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings over 31 starts — pretty good considering how offense-heavy Major League Baseball was as a whole this past season.