Today is a special day for Jeremy Hefner; he will be making his first of (what he hopes is) many starts in the Major Leagues. He has the wonderful opportunity of doing it in front of the home fans at Citi Field, and has the confidence of manager Terry Collins after his two solid relief appearances with the club, the most recent being five innings against the Blue Jays last weekend. He also kicks off a great time for the Mets, who are about to enjoy their longest home stand of the season (11 games). Baseball is a funny game, and the game does it again, as Hefner takes on the first professional team that he signed with.
As we continue to learn more about Jeremy Hefner, I didn’t realize that he was drafted twice by the Mets before he got drafted and signed with the Padres. In 2004, New York took him 46th round, then again the next year in the 48th round. However, he decided to go to Oral Roberts, and ended up being drafted in 2007 by San Diego in the 5th round and signing with the team shortly thereafter. Even though he was with the organization for quite some time, he never made it to The Show until this season with New York. He made 120 minor league starts for the Padres organization before they designated him for assignment and was picked up by the Pirates. After
Pittsburgh put him on waivers a month later, the Mets were able to grab him and make him a part of their organization, something that was eight years in the making.
His tenure with the Mets has been a good one so far, with both his time in Triple-A and the Majors being successful; he started seven games this year in Buffalo, and showed his talent by compiling a 2.72 ERA, and has only given up two runs in eight innings pitched for the Mets in two relief appearances. How long will Hefner be able to stay in the rotation? Only time will tell because there are a few different factors that go into it.
Since Mike Pelfrey was lost for the year, Terry Collins has been searching for someone to take the reins of the fourth spot in the rotation while Chris Young continues his rehabbing in the minor leagues. If Hefner is productive and able to keep his team in games (unlike Chris Schwinden), then he will stay with the Mets for a while. There is no timetable on Young’s return, who will be making his third rehabilitation start tomorrow for the St. Lucie Mets.
Why did Sandy Alderson pick Hefner up off of waivers? Well, him and his assistant, Paul DePodesta, met him back in 2009 when they were both executives for the Padres and Hefner was named minor league pitcher of the year. He fell out of the good graces of the organization when he posted a 4.98 ERA last season. DePodesta remembered Hefner’s name when he saw him on the waiver wire, and knew that he was a good location-type pitcher that has the ability to throw strikes.
That will be the key to Hefner staying in the Majors for longer than a couple of starts; he needs to locate his pitchers and throw strikes. What better team to start his career against than the one that ran out of patience and faith in him? It will be fun to watch Hefner take the mound tonight, the first start of, God-willing, a prosperous career for the 26-year-old rookie.