In a near no-hitter, Zack Wheeler caps off an incredible first month – Phillies Nation

Zack Wheeler was dominant on Saturday. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

It took Philadelphia Phillies great Zack Wheeler until his fifth start of the season to get his first win of the season. Considering how well Wheeler threw the first four, you can begin to understand why pitcher wins have been devalued as a benchmark for the sport.

As good as Wheeler was in his first four starts, he found a new level Saturday night against the lowly Chicago White Sox. A night after Spencer Turnbull threw a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Wheeler didn’t give up a hit until his 106th and final pitch of the night, a blind single off the bat of White Sox catcher Korey Lee with one out. in the eighth inning, it reached first base via Bryce Harper’s outstretched glove.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson said after the game that he told Wheeler after the seventh inning that he would let him throw up to 120 pitches. Ultimately, it turned out to be a moot point. In his search for quick outs in the eighth inning, Wheeler ultimately suffered a blow. But he seemed to understand why Thomson would have a limit on him, even if he reached it without conceding another goal.

“I mean, that’s good for me. It’s a long season. I always say that when things like this happen,” Wheeler said after the game.

“You want to be good for the long term,” Wheeler continued. “I mean, no-hitters are cool, but you have to be safe with them, too.”

Even though Wheeler is still looking for his first career no-hitter, he has made himself an early favorite for the NL Cy Young Award. Through his first five starts of the season, he had a 2.30 ERA. Wheeler’s 1.1 WAR is tied with Kutter Crawford of the Boston Red Sox for the highest mark among all starting pitchers in the sport. He has logged the most innings of any pitcher to date, at 31 1/3 innings.

It’s to the point where every time Wheeler climbs the hill at Citizens Bank Park it’s almost an event. Sure, he didn’t throw a no-hitter on Saturday night, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he makes another run before 2024 is over.

“He’s able to do that for us every outing, every night,” Trea Turner said of Wheeler’s dominant performance Saturday. “So I’m happy that we finally got him a win, I think this is the first. So we gave him some run support, but it was just vintage Zack, pounding through the zone. He had control of all his fields. And he’s very hard to hit when he mixes them all.

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