PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets demoted Zack Wheeler to Class AAA Las Vegas on Saturday after a weak spring training in which he surrendered 22 hits and nine earned runs over 10 innings.
“I really haven’t proved myself this spring,” Wheeler, a right-hander, said. “I saw it coming, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t.”
Wheeler’s demotion meant another delay in the arrival of the Mets’ long-anticipated big five rotation. The four others — Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz — will be joined in the season-opening rotation by the right-hander Seth Lugo. He will be the fifth starter while the left-hander Jason Vargas recovers from surgery on a broken bone in his nonthrowing hand. Vargas, who was injured last week, may miss a start or two.
Wheeler appeared to have a shot at filling in for Vargas, but he allowed five runs on 58 pitches over two innings in his final spring appearance on Thursday.