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With eye on future, Wheeler shut down for final week

With eye on future, Wheeler shut down for final week

With eye on future, Wheeler shut down for final week

PHILADELPHIA -- Zack Wheeler wanted to go one more start, that much was clear on Saturday afternoon.

That said, Wheeler understands his position with the Mets, and that one fewer start this year will have no impact on his role next season.

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"I think it's a group decision," said Wheeler, who was informed by Mets manager Terry Collins that he will be shut down for the rest of the season after experiencing shoulder stiffness during his last start.

"I'm 20 innings over what I had last year. It's a little stiff, so we're being cautious and we'll go from there."

Wheeler has had a very productive rookie season after making his Major League debut on June 18. In 17 starts, the 23-year old right-hander went 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA. In 100 innings of work, he struck out 84 and walked 46.

Wheeler said the stiffness began in an 8-5 loss to San Francisco on Tuesday in which he allowed four runs over five innings. The Mets already have Matt Harvey's future weighing heavily on their minds, as he has decided to rehab his right elbow rather than have Tommy John surgery. With that in mind, Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson made the decision about Wheeler.

"With what's happened with Matt, now is certainly not the time to take chances," said Collins, who noted that the organization, not the team's medical staff, made the call about Wheeler. "One more start is not going to mean that much.

"He wanted to throw a bullpen today and I said, 'No.' He was fine today and he was fine yesterday. After treatment, he played catch and said he felt great. I talked to Sandy, and we agreed it's just not worth it to run him out there."

Wheeler is certainly a part of the Mets' future, and even though he didn't want to talk in terms of already having a spot in next year's rotation, it's clear that he heads into the offseason as close to a lock as possible. With Harvey's situation in limbo, Wheeler, along with Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, will likely make up the top of the rotation.

The fact is, with the Mets where they are in the standings, they've had the chance to test Wheeler's ceiling. Collins would really like to see Wheeler improve his changeup, something that Wheeler admitted he only uses against left-handed hitters.

"He gave us certainly what we had hoped for," Collins said. "We had heard all the stories about what a great arm he has and what his upside is and he lived up to it every which way.

"The third start -- the first one was all adrenaline and the second one, his command was off -- but that third one, he dominated. He used his changeup effectively. That was the best changeup he had all year. He got easy outs and you go back, deep in the game, [he] limited number of pitches, and that was a good sign."

"I knew coming into Spring Training that I wanted a job out of Spring Training," Wheeler said. "I knew it was a long shot. I knew I had to go through the Minor Leagues, do well and I'd get a shot up here and take advantage of the chance. I think it's going to help going into next year."

Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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