Zack Wheeler could help out of the bullpen in 2017

Zack Wheeler could help out of the bullpen in 2017

Photo by Eric Holden

It's been two years since Zack Wheeler pitched for the New York Mets.

Since his last outing in the big leagues, the 26-year-old spent plenty of time riding the pine, rehabbing his arm and pitching sporadically in the Florida State League. Wheeler, who had great success with the Mets in 2013 and 2014, hasn't maintained any kind of consistency in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

His road to recovery has been a long and windy one. There have been plenty of injury setbacks along the way, including a strained flexor muscle that forced him to be shut down for much of 2016. And for that reason, the Mets' brass will take things slow with him this offseason and in the season ahead.

What exactly does that mean? It could be a number of possibilities, including starting him off in the bullpen. With a starting rotation expected to feature Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom and Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo, Wheeler may be best utilized as a reliever. Not only would putting him in the bullpen keep his innings to a minimum, but it would also fill the Mets' biggest need.

Let's be real: New York's starting rotation is absolutely stacked. Where they need the most help is out of the 'pen. Fortunately for Mets fans, Wheeler is a true team player, as he told the local media that he's open to be a reliever if that's what the franchise wants.

Time will tell how the situation pans out. One would have to guess the franchise will ease Wheeler into the mix with some action out of the bullpen. If he does well there and if a starter gets injured, the Georgia native could always move back into the rotation.