Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler said he wants to find consistency this spring with his slider, sharpen the command of his fastball, and do what it takes this season to pitch deeper into games.

But first, he had to undergo surgery for the second time in his career to repair the fingernail on his right middle finger after it ripped off last September when he stumbled while stepping into a pair of jeans. So far, so good. Wheeler has thrown two bullpen sessions in Clearwater, Fla., and said Sunday there’s no issue with his fingernail.

The Phillies hope the offseason surgery has provided a solution to a problem with which the 30-year-old has dealt since the minor leagues.

“You say your prayers and hope it doesn’t happen again,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Right now it feels pretty good, but we’re not in the middle of the season where he’s throwing 100 pitches in a game.”

The Phillies bet $118 million on Wheeler in a five-year contract a year ago, believing the success he had in the second half of 2019 -- a 2.83 ERA in 12 starts with the New York Mets -- could be sustained. Last season was a good sign as Wheeler posted a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts, with 53 strikeouts in 71 innings. But the Phillies believe he can be even better.

“I think there’s more. I really do,” Girardi said. “I think he has a much better understanding of who he is and what he needs to do to be successful. I think he’ll continue to get even better. I really do. I think the sky’s the limit for this kid. You watch him throw his bullpens, you just see that he has an idea of what he wants to do. He’s able to throw the ball where he wants to. He’s able to execute a number of different pitches. When you have stuff like he does and you have power like he does and you really start to understand your weapons, I think the sky’s the limit.”

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Wheeler’s strikeout rate last season -- 6.7 per nine innings -- was the lowest of his career, but he registered his highest groundball rate (55.9%) and lowest flyball rate (19%). His fastball velocity (97.26 mph) was just as strong, but Wheeler was no longer trying to blow every hitter away. He seemed to grow into a complete pitcher.

He made three starts after ripping off his fingernail, yet managed to reach the eighth inning in two of them and fired more than 90 pitches in each of them. Wheeler found a way to finish last season and now the Phillies hope they found a way to leave his fingernail issues in the past.

“Coming in every year, you expect to do well,” Wheeler said. “This year, I’m coming off of two good years in a row. Me and [Aaron] Nola were talking about it earlier to just win as many games as possible. Going out there one after another, give our team a chance to win, and finish the year strong.”