Phillies Rotation

Zack Wheeler officially gets the nod on Opening Day

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Zack Wheeler will start for the Phillies on Opening Day, manager Rob Thomson revealed to reporters after Sunday's game against the Blue Jays.

It will be his first Opening Day start and snaps Aaron Nola's streak of six straight for the Phils.

The Phillies' top two starters have the most relaxed demeanors you'll find and neither has cared who got the nod. Nola was asked about it on March 7 and deferred to Wheeler, saying "Wheels should take it, he's earned it."

He certainly has. As a Phillie, Wheeler has become one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He was recognized as such with the monstrous annual average value on his new contract extension. Wheeler will make $42 million per year from 2025-27, the fourth-highest AAV of all-time.

In four seasons with the Phillies, Wheeler has gone 43-25 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP and missed only six starts. He's made an All-Star team, won a Gold Glove, finished second and sixth in Cy Young voting and compiled an already memorable playoff resume. Wheeler's appeared in 11 playoff games with 10 starts and his 0.73 WHIP in the postseason is the lowest ever.

Wheeler will likely draw Braves ace Spencer Strider at 3:05 p.m. on March 28 at Citizens Bank Park. The teams have a built-in off day on March 29, and Nola could start Game 2 on March 30. He and his wife, Hunter, are expecting their first child the first week of April, so the timing could affect the Phillies' first or second cycle through the rotation. Players can miss up to three games on paternity leave.

Wheeler has looked sharp in all three spring starts despite missing time early in camp for the birth of his third child. He didn't pitch until March 5 but kept himself busy with bullpen sessions. He's gone two, three and four innings, allowing just two runs.

"Pumped," Nola said shortly after it became official that Wheeler would be with the Phillies through at least the end of 2027.

"It's great for the team, the organization, the city. He's a stud and I love being his teammate. He's one of the best pitchers in the game.

"It's a pretty special team. Being able to get to the playoffs the last two years with roughly the same guys, it's pretty special to have the same team and hopefully for years to come."

Wheeler has pitched extremely well against his first opponent, the Braves. As a Phillie, he's made 15 starts vs. Atlanta and gone 6-3 with a 2.49 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He's struck out 113 and walked 17 in those 97⅔ innings against baseball's best lineup over that period.

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