WASHINGTON -- Potentially less than two weeks away from Zack Wheeler's big league debut, Mets manager Terry Collins made it clear that Wheeler alone will not transform the Mets.
"I hope everybody understands if and when this guy comes, he's not going to be the savior," Collins said of Wheeler, who is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas. "There's a lot of pieces that have to work. One guy is not going to turn this around for us. It takes 25."
Wheeler, who is next scheduled to pitch for Vegas on Friday, could be approaching his final start in the Minors. Friday's outing may be his last if the Mets decide to debut him next week against either the Cardinals or the Cubs, or his second-to-last if Wheeler instead debuts the following week in Atlanta.
Nothing is set in stone, which Collins made clear. Which is why he refuses to think about the roster implications once Wheeler, the Mets' top pitching prospect as ranked by MLB.com, arrives.
"Everybody expects this to happen, and I don't know when it's going to happen," Collins said. "When the time comes, it'll probably be if someone's not pitching well, they've got to be a candidate to come out. If everybody's pitching good and this kid comes, then we'll have to make a decision on who would fit best someplace else."
When Wheeler does make it to the big leagues, Collins said he has no idea if the expectations that Matt Harvey inadvertently created -- namely, the notion that he will be great immediately -- will affect Wheeler positively or negatively. Collins does know that he purposely placed Harvey and Wheeler's lockers next to each other in Spring Training, hoping the elder pitcher might be able to dispense some advice.
"Did he?" Collins asked. "I have no idea."
The Mets should find out sooner rather than later.
"Certainly, everybody's excited because he's a prospect, and you look down the road with that arm and that stuff and he could be a good pitcher for a long time," Collins said. "But there's a lot of adjustments there that have to be made by him, as Matt made them."