Once again the Mets have put themselves behind the eight ball.
It’s the Mets Way. When baseball life is difficult, make it more difficult.
Whatever trade value Zack Wheeler had has been severely compromised. The right-hander was put on the injured list Monday with right shoulder fatigue and Steven Matz will make the start Wheeler was scheduled to make Tuesday against the Twins at Target Field.
That start would have been a great test for Wheeler against an AL playoff team, giving other contenders a look at how he would fare but now the trade game has changed.
The scouts were lined up to see Wheeler pitch with the July 31 trade deadline approaching.
Perhaps, Matz will up his trade value because Wheeler’s value nosedives at this point.
“Absolutely, this will hurt his trade value,’’ one scout who has been following the Mets told The Post on Monday. Offered another scout, “Terrible timing.’’
That’s Mets timing.
Is there any other kind when it comes to the Mets? As one industry source said, “The Mets should have traded him already, they waited too long.’’
At 42-51 these Mets were going nowhere.
The Mets are hoping Wheeler misses only one or two starts, which means any team that trades for Wheeler is going to have to take a huge leap of faith that his shoulder issues will not grow worse and that, in the long run, this break will give them a better pitcher for a playoff run.
As it is, Wheeler is 6-6 with a 4.69 ERA. Over his past six starts, he is 1-3 with a 4.89 ERA. He is struggling as the season progresses. Hence the fatigue shutdown.
Over those six starts, Wheeler has gone 35 innings and allowed 40 hits and nine walks with 37 strikeouts. He has given up 24 runs, but only 19 were earned as the Mets’ poor defense makes it that much more difficult for Mets pitchers to get outs, get off the field and keep them in a groove.
An error here or there or a ball that sneaks past the middle-infield defense, shortstop Amed Rosario or aging second baseman Robinson Cano or a catchable fly ball that drops or a key stolen base makes each and every Mets starter have to work that much harder for outs.
That’s a lot to ask for any starter and all that adds up to more pitching stress and pressure. Whatever value Wheeler, who is going to be a free agent at the end of the season had, is now that much less.
Clearly, Wheeler has to be extremely careful about his future no matter what team he is traded to because this free agency will mark his big payday. Wheeler is 29. He’s already gone through Tommy John surgery. He is 39-36 lifetime with a 3.88 ERA over 114 starts and 673 innings.
This shoulder fatigue could help explain Wheeler’s poor season after such a strong second half in 2018.
Leading up to the All-Star break, the Mets had Wheeler starting every five days. There was no extra padding built into his schedule even though the Mets needed to showcase him to maximize his trade value.
Perhaps the Mets could have helped themselves in the long run by giving Wheeler a little extra rest leading up to his two July starts, but that was not done. The Mets have been trying to push their starters a little deeper this year because the bullpen has been so poor and there is a lack of organizational starting pitching depth.
Whatever the reason, Wheeler is now on the shelf when he should be on the mound, showcasing his talents, getting trade partners into a bidding war.
That is not happening.
Reading the tea leaves where the team was headed as they put together their second straight horrendous June would have been beneficial but the Mets did not throw in the towel until Friday when Brodie Van Wagenen admitted the rest of the league: “They came and got us.’’
Whatever team that is going to come and get Wheeler in a trade now is not going to have to give up as much talent. So Mets.
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