Marcus Stroman already has the No. 2 role within the New York Mets’ rotation secured if or when the 2020 MLB season starts up after Noah Syndergaard’s Tommy John surgery, but new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner sees even bigger things for the righty.
When speaking with SNY’s Baseball Night in New York: Living Room Edition, Hefner could give team ace and two-time defending NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom a run for his money.
“For Stro, the sky is the limit for him,” Hefner said. “He could easily push Jake in the Cy Young Award race.”
For that to happen, the 29-year-old will have to find his footing in New York.
Following a promising start to the 2019 season with the Toronto Blue Jays — posting a 2.96 ERA in 21 starts — Stroman’s numbers swelled when he was traded to the Mets in July, going 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA.
Inconsistencies have plagued him for much of the past four seasons, sporting a 3.86 ERA while mostly pitching in the offensively-gifted American League East. But there are numbers to suggest that he could turn a corner in the National League.
Since the beginning of the 2017 season, only seven pitchers in Major Leauge Baseball have recorded two years in which they threw at least 180 innings and sported an ERA+ of 135 or better. Stroman is one of them.
“His ability to control his body — he throws a million different pitches in a million different locations and can really do some funky things from a timing standpoint to mess up the hitter,” Hefner said. “For me taking this job, I was really, really excited to get to work with him. It’s someone I’ve admired from a distance for a while.”
Hefner appeared in two MLB seasons, both with the Mets, from 2012-2013. He was an advanced scout with the Minnesota Twins before getting promoted to assistant pitching coach in 2019.
The Mets hired the 34-year-old as their main pitching coach over the winter where he helps round out a young coaching staff that also features first-year manager and 38-year-old Luis Rojas.