There was a bit of concern for Zach Wheeler coming into this season. When he began the offseason throwing program he started experiencing shoulder soreness, a scary situation for a pitcher that led the league in innings the prior year. Wheeler ended up being fine, but missed much of the preparation for the season. On 4/12 he made his first start of the season, and it was a rough first few weeks. After three starts he held an 8.53 ERA and an 0-3 record. Then came his start vs Colorado on 4/28 and we began seeing the pitcher who finished second in the Cy Young voting last season. He now holds a 3.49 ERA after 4 gems featuring 7, 7, 7, and 9 strikeouts.
Dating back to last season, Zack has hit a 6.5 line in 24 of 39 starts. In 5 starts vs the Braves, he hit in 4 of them averaging 8.2 in those games. His analytics are terrific despite the slow start to the season. He is in the 68th percentile in K%, 54th percentile in whiff%, and 90th percentile in chase rate. He is able to send batters down on strikes with 4 different pitches: 4 seam fastball, sinker, slider, and his deadly curveball.
The Braves lead the league in strikeouts per game at 9.61. They have a K% of 25.8% for the season, and have been even worse over the last 30 days where that % has risen to 26.4%. They hold a league worst 30.0% whiff %. They are also 8th in the league in chase rate. Wheeler has already begun to return to form lately, but this feels like a wonderful opportunity to rack up a ton of strikeouts, so I will take over 6.5 K.