Jeremy Hefner: The Improbable Dream
Starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner didn’t come to the Mets with all hype and bravado of an elite pitching prospect the way that his teammates Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler did. In fact, most never even gave him a chance to be in the rotation until news broke during spring training, that Johan Santana would be out for the season. Even then, Hefner was just one of three possible options to replace Johan in the rotation. The other two, Aaron Laffey and Collin McHugh, are not even with the organization anymore.
Last night, the incredible journey that is the 2013 season for Jeremy Hefner continued. After surrendering a two-run home run to Pedro Alvarez in the first inning, it didn’t look good for Heff, but he held the Pirates to just one more hit for the rest of the night and gave his team the chance to comeback and tie the game. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and no walks while striking out three over seven innings and was pulled after 78 pitches thrown.
He closes out the first half of the season with a 4-6 record, a 3.33 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 19 appearances (18 starts). He has a 65-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 108 innings and is a win away from matching his career high in a season.
Even more remarkable than that, over the last 30 days Hefner has been the best pitcher in the National League. In his last ten starts spanning 63.0 innings, he has a 2.14 ERA and allowed just ten walks while striking out 54 batters. He has allowed just ten runs over his last eight starts and since the end of April has been the best pitcher in the Mets rotation. He has posted a 1.80 ERA in June and a 1.29 ERA in July. Scintillating….
Nothing phases him and while he should easily have 8-9 extra wins on his record, the losses and no-decisions don’t bother him.
“That doesn’t matter to me,” the Moore, Oklahoma native said. “If I give a quality outing, go deep into games, I’ve done my job. If we score runs, then I’ll get a win. If we don’t, then I might get a no-decision or whatever. Just as long as the team wins, I’m happy.”
As most of you know, I’ve been on the Hefner bandwagon since last season. There’s a subdued coolness about him that stands out and is hard not to admire. It’s not a glaring cockiness, but rather a quiet and confident demeanor of someone who’s focused on working hard at being the best he could be.
“I knew that I could pitch this way,” says Hefner. “My performance is finally matching up to the expectation. This doesn’t surprise me. I know I’m capable of doing this. So it’s not a shock to me.”
Hefner, 27, just closed out the first half of the season with flair, domination, and excellence. His reward will be taking the mound against the Phillies when the Mets begin the second half of their season. Piece of cake…
“I know that I’m good enough to be here,” Hefner said. “I know I’m good enough to beat these hitters. If someone does beat me, I know I can get the next guy.”
There have been a few nice surprises to the Mets 2013 season so far, but none of them compare to what Jeremy Hefner has done. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody that is, except Jeremy Hefner.
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
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. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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