If Zack Wheeler Is In, Then Who’s Out?

An article by posted on May 24, 2013

jeremy hefner“Hefner is the Anti-Harvey.”

I caught that in Adam Rubin’s Morning Briefing today on ESPN New York.

I guess if you go by their won-loss records you could certainly make that claim, but it’s not that simple.

With all the latest reports now confirming what we’ve all been waiting for since Carlos Beltran was shipped off almost two years ago, the question now is:

If Zack Wheeler is in, then who’s out?

Obviously, Jon Niese is safe so the choice will come down to either Jeremy Hefner (5.00 ERA), Dillon Gee (6.04 ERA) and Shaun Marcum (6.59 ERA). The early consensus has the one with the lowest ERA as the odd man out, Hefner’s 0-5 record I’m sure will weigh heavily in the decision, but he also has a lot less experience than the other two and we all know how Terry loves his veterans… Right, Ike?

Jared Diamond of The Journal calls Hefner “unlucky,” and to a point he’s right. “Jeremy Hefner pitches for the Mets on Friday,” he writes. “Therefore, the Mets probably won’t win.

“Baseball isn’t always fair, especially when you play for the Mets. All eight of Hefner’s starts this season have ended in a Mets loss, putting him in an unfortunate and lonely club: He is the only regular starter in the majors whose team has lost all of his starts.”

Honestly, Hefner hasn’t been nearly as bad as his record would indicate, and as Diamond points out, after a tough first couple of games his ERA has been just a tick above league average which is exactly what one would expect or hope for from their fifth starter. The right-hander has has a 4.06 ERA over his last five starts, while the National League average comes in at 3.77.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t exactly had Hefner’s back whenever he takes the mound, averaging about three runs a game whenever he pitches. He could just as easily be 3-2 instead of 0-5 when you examine a few of his last five starts, especially his April 30 start when he took a shutout into the ninth inning against the Marlins. In his start before that, he tossed seven solid innings against the Dodgers and allowed just one run. Of course the Mets lost both of those superbly pitched games.

I do agree with the majority opinion and that Hefner will indeed be the one that Wheeler ultimately replaces, but it might not be a bad thing either for Hefner or even the Mets. Hefner seems to have trouble once the opposition gets that third look at him as do most pitchers. The problem with Hefner is that he doesn’t have those plus-pitches that could help him navigate through a lineup late in games. He doesn’t possess any electric stuff and eventually the other guys can figure him out. That’s a problem for a starting pitcher, but not so much for a long reliever. Hefner could be what the Mets have lacked ever since Darren Oliver bolted for the Angels after the 2006 season.

Zack Wheeler may not spell the end for Jeremy Hefner, but it might mark the beginning of something new and possibly better.

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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