Apr 5, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher John Buck (44) talks with starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner (53) during the second inning of a MLB game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hefner Starts Climb Up Mound Of Opportunity

I’m not trying to predict greatness for Jeremy Hefner.  Nor am I projecting an all-star season for him.  I’m merely stating my confidence that he can be proficient on the hill.  After getting a better sense for the catcher the Mets really acquired in John Buck, I have an even stronger belief Jeremy Hefner can make an appreciable contribution to the team this season.  Friday night, he started to do just that.  Although Jeremy may have been a hard luck loser against Miami, he still put forth a winning-type effort.  Hefner threw an albeit high 102 pitches in six innings of work, but only allowed a solo home run by clean-up hitter Greg  Dobbs.  Otherwise, he surrendered five scattered hits, walked two, and struck out three batters.

Jeremy Hefner suffered through a somewhat troublesome Grapefruit League.  In 25.1 innings, he allowed thirteen runs for a 4.62 ERA.  Even more alarming, he surrendered eight home runs.  He allowed more hits than innings pitched, and walked seven batters, which translated into a 1.30 WHiP.  On a more promising note, he struck out twenty-one Grapefruit League batters.

Of course we know Hefner’s promotion last year didn’t go that well.  But then again, he was just an inexperienced rookie who got caught up in the Mets second half maelstrom.  He made twenty-six appearances, and started thirteen games.  In 93.2 innings, he posted a lofty 5.06 ERA.  However, he only walked eighteen batters and struck out sixty-two.  So, even though he proved hittable last season, he also provided evidence of staying power.

He was previously drafted twice by the Mets, in the 46th round of the 2004 draft, and in the 48th round of the 2005 draft, but never signed.  Sandy Alderson, then of the Padres, drafted Jeremy in the fifth round of the 2007 amateur draft.  He stayed with San Diego through 2010, until Sandy Alderson of the Mets selected him off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates, who only a month earlier, selected him off waivers from San Diego.

Last year in his first season with Buffalo, Jeremy appeared in ten games before heading to Queens.  In 61.2 innings, he limited opposing batters to fifty-five hits, walked ten, and struck out thirty-seven. His 2.77 ERA, and 1.054 WHiP, were his minor league best marks.  In an overall six year minor league career, he posted a combined 51-36 won/loss record, with a 3.76 ERA.  With 750 innings to his credit, he averaged 8.8 hits, 2.7 walks, and 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The only thing that lies ahead of this twenty-seven year old sophomore pitcher is opportunity.  His first game of the season was a fine effort.  For now, I’m just shooting for reliability.  Bearing the distinction of being the guy who took Johan Santana‘s place comes with inherent pressure.  I’m behind him.  Go Jeremy.

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