12:00 pm May. 22, 2012
The Mets' adventures trying to fill Mike Pelfrey's rotation spot continued this weekend, when Miguel Batista suffered a back injury that landed him on the disabled list.
Batista, 41, wasn't a realistic answer to a problem that calls for a pitcher who can give the Mets reasonably effective innings every five days. He'd replaced Chris Schwinden, who had been remarkably hittable in his starts as well.
So on Monday, the Mets announced that the next contestant to hold down the rotation spot will be Jeremy Hefner. The Mets don't have much reason to expect Hefner to succeed, either, but he is the best option they have right now.
In 46 Triple-A innings this season, Hefner posted a 2.72 E.R.A. But he's struck out a paltry 4.9 per nine innings. If he isn't fooling Triple-A hitters, he's unlikely to fool major-league hitters.
Hefner did strike out five over five innings in relief of the injured Batista on Saturday, in just his second major-league performance. And his strikeout rate has historically been higher in the minor leagues, though still a pedestrian 6.9 per nine last year for Triple-A Tucson.
The Mets don't need him to step in and perform like an ace. They just need innings, desperately. And Hefner, 26 years old, will have his best chance, maybe ever, to establish himself as a big-league pitcher.
Stranger things have happened.