Zack Wheeler’s Dominant 2023 Season: A Glance at Success, Minor Setbacks, and the Looming Free Agency Dilemma…

2023 Season Recap: Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler once again showcased his prowess as one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball throughout the 2023 season, leaving an indelible mark in both the regular and postseason.

Securing a sixth-place finish in Cy Young voting, this marked his third top-12 placement in his four-year tenure with the Phillies.

Notably, Wheeler clinched his inaugural Gold Glove award, marking the franchise’s fourth and first since Steve Carlton in 1981. His standout performances were fueled by the remarkable effectiveness of his sweeper and sinker, proving formidable and challenging for opposing batters.

Examining areas for improvement, any critique of Wheeler’s season seems minor when viewed in the context of his exceptional track record.

Although he fell slightly short of his previous innings pitched, nearing the 200 mark, his strikeout percentage dipped by a mere 2%, and his WHIP increased by less than a tenth compared to the past two seasons. Identifying faults in his performance appears to be mere nitpicking.

Looking ahead, Wheeler’s impending free agency in 2024 adds an intriguing layer to the Phillies’ future plans.

While the team’s desire to retain him has been made public by Dave Dombrowski, the complexities of negotiating an extension are acknowledged. Wheeler’s potential exploration of free agency raises concerns for the Phillies, particularly given their recent sizable investment in Aaron Nola with a 7-year, $172 million contract.

Recognizing Wheeler’s undeniable superiority, allowing him to reach free agency poses a considerable risk. Notably, Wheeler’s age, being three years senior to Nola, may introduce hesitations from the Phillies and other interested teams when contemplating a long-term deal.

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