Bryce Harper has company in the J.T. Realmuto Fan Club with Zack Wheeler


If Bryce Harper is president of the J.T. Realmuto Fan Club, Zack Wheeler is vice president.

Wheeler notched his second win in as many starts with the Phillies in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Yankees on Wednesday. The right-hander pitched six innings of three-run ball and was supported by homers from Harper and Realmuto.

In recent weeks, Harper has been outspoken in his desire to see the Phillies extend Realmuto's contract.

Wheeler chimed in with his own subtle endorsement of the All-Star catcher after Wednesday's game.

"Playing against him all these years, I was wishing he was my catcher and now he is," Wheeler said. "That was part of me coming over here, and I love throwing to him."

Wheeler, a former New York Met, signed a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. The Chicago White Sox actually offered Wheeler more money but staying on the East Coast and in the National League East appealed to the pitcher. And now we know that joining Realmuto was a factor in his decision, as well.

Wheeler has pitched 13 innings and allowed just four runs over two starts with his new club, both with Realmuto behind the plate.

"Against a lineup like the Yankees, you have to make pitches," Wheeler said after Wednesday's game. "Me and J.T. were on the same page all day. He can call a game and that's what you need back there.

"And he's a great receiver, one of the best in the game at that. And when guys get on base, you don't have that thought in the back of your head about being slow to the plate because he'll make up for it with his arm. And, of course, he can swing it."

Realmuto will become a free agent at season's end. The Phillies hope to sign him to an extension. Time will tell if that happens.

In the meantime, you can bet that Realmuto's agent will save Wheeler's endorsement for his client's free-agent dossier.

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