One of the least talked about pitchers in New York Mets camp this spring has been Jeremy Hefner. He’s not an established veteran, nor is he a promising prospect. He doesn’t flash brilliant stuff, nor is he expected to play a prominent role on the team. Hefner may not even be guaranteed a spot on the opening day roster, but he is a useful pitcher that’s going to be an important part of the Mets this season.
Lost in the mix of yet another abysmal season for the Mets last year were the contributions made by Hefner after being claimed off waivers the previous offseason. Hefner gave the Mets 93 innings last year between 13 starts and 13 relief appearances, and pitched to an ERA just over 5. It may not seem like much, and it may not seem that good, but what Hefner gave the Mets last year was a steady and reliable presence, and the ability to pitch in any role he was asked to take.
This year should be more of the same for Hefner. If Johan Santana has to start the season on the disabled list, Hefner is the most likely to fill in as part of the Mets rotation to start the year, especially if Jenrry Mejia isn’t an option. Hefner might otherwise be counted on stay in AAA and wait for an opportunity in the majors to start. However, another possibility is for Hefner to win a job as a long man in the bullpen, with the possibility of making a spot start if necessary. It might be the role best-suited for Hefner, as it would keep him in the big leagues, allowing him to be used in any capacity needed while also allowing the Mets to keep their young prospects in the minors until they’re ready.
When all is said and done, Hefner will likely end up playing several different roles on the Mets this season. But that’s what makes him a valuable player to have around, and that’s why his contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed this season.