PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler has a torn elbow ligament, a blow to a team hoping to compete for the playoffs following Matt Harvey’s return from Tommy John surgery. If Wheeler needs replacement surgery, he likely would be out until early of the 2016 season.
The 24-year-old right-hander had an MRI exam Saturday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the team said. The scan was reviewed Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and he was preliminarily diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Wheeler was to travel Monday to New York to “confirm the diagnosis” and discuss with team medical director Dr. David Altchek on how to proceed.
The announcement came one day after the team said Josh Edgin, the team’s most-established left-handed reliever, will have elbow-ligament replacement surgery this week. The only other left-handed relievers in camp are Sean Gilmartin and three pitchers with minor league contracts — Scott Rice, Dario Alvarez and Jack Leathersich.
Wheeler’s injury could end New York’s thoughts of trading Dillon Gee for a shortstop or offensive help. Harvey now heads a rotation that includes National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, Jonathon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Gee.
Wheeler was selected by San Francisco with the sixth overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft and was traded to New York two years later in the deal that brought outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Giants. He has gone 18-16 since his big league debut in June 2013, exciting the Mets with a fastball that averaged 96 mph last season.
Wheeler made his only spring training appearance March 9, allowing six runs, two hits, two walks and two hit batters in 1 2-3 innings against Miami. He pitched a perfect first, then got in trouble in the second.
New York scratched him from Saturday’s start, saying he was bothered by a sore elbow and a blister. He had been given two MRIs during the offseason.
Wheeler is among the prized young pitchers the Mets have been trying to rebuild around as they try to end a streak of six straight losing seasons, one shy of the team record.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports Images
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