New York Mets will retain Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach for 2021

New York Mets hire Jeremy Hefner as pitching coach.

The New York Mets essentially cleaned house in the front office once new owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson took over. Former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen left the team, and most of his staff was also separated from the team.

Recently, it was reported that Hensley Meulens, who served as the New York Mets’ bench coach in the 2020 season, would not be returning for the 2021 campaign. On the other hand, manager Luis Rojas will indeed come back next year to try to take the team to the postseason.

Now, SNY’s Andy Martino is confirming that the Mets are brining back pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Under Hefner, the Mets’ hurlers were 15th in fWAR, with 5.1, but they had the ninth worst team ERA, with 5.01.

However, Hefner should also get credit for getting the best out of Edwin Diaz, who had an amazing season after the team as a whole put together a plan to resurrect his career after a dismal 2019. In 2020, Diaz had a 1.75 ERA and a 2.18 FIP.

The Mets’ pitching could have a rebound season in 2021

It is also true that many Mets’ pitchers had to miss time due to injury. Even ace Jacob deGrom had a start pushed; and Steven Matz suffered from shoulder bursitis, Michael Wacha and David Peterson nursed shoulder inflammation, and Dellin Betances never found his footing. Marcus Stroman opted out of the season because of COVID-related concerns.

Nevertheless, the new staff is confident that Hefner has what it takes to get the best out of the Mets’ pitchers in 2021 under circumstances closer to normal. It is also presumed that Hefner’s presence in the team was one of the main factors that convinced talented free agent reliever Trevor May to sign in New York. Hefner and May worked together with the Minnesota Twins.

There is another theory that states Hefner could also play a role in trying to convince free agent starter Jake Odorizzi to join the Mets, as the team looks for more reinforcements for the starting rotation.

Mets’ pitching coach opens up about the challenges and benefits of extra family time

New York Mets

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting the United States and the world, Major League Baseball decided to suspend its operations indefinitely, including the rest of spring training and regular season games. While the players’ association and the league are currently discussing plans to eventually return and play this year, it isn’t a given. The New York Mets are, therefore, waiting.

The team, however, prefers to encourage players to keep themselves in shape at home, however they can, in case baseball returns soon. That’s why the Mets’ pitching coach Jeremy Hefner continually checks on his pitchers via Zoom.

That doesn’t mean that Hefner isn’t subject to the same challenges that players, and all Americans, are when it comes to staying home, educating his children and coexisting with his wife and family.

The Mets’ pitching coordinator, who was hired this season, said to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus shutdowns.

Hefner implied that his children are “baseball kids,” so they can have an advantage at adapting to new, abrupt realities.

“They were born into the not-sure-what’s-next life,” Hefner said of his four children. “Our kids are mostly independent and do a great job of rolling with what life hands us. They’ve taken this in stride.”

The Mets’ pitching boss is a regular, family guy

“We do our best to read with our kids as much as possible. Generally speaking we have well-mannered kids, so there hasn’t been anything too hard,” Hefner said. “The coolest part is we really get to see their imagination and what they think is important. Letting them be a part of the process is key, in our minds.”

Hefner thinks that social tools help, but kids are going to miss their friends and that’s natural. “I didn’t realize how much social investment they had in their friends. They really miss them, mostly because they are stuck with Mom and Dad all day,” Hefner said, laughing. “Zoom/FaceTime/Xbox certainly help, but nothing replaces the in-person contact.”

For the Mets’ pitching boss, it is a mix of feelings. He misses his job, yet he is enjoying his family time to the fullest.

“I really enjoy baseball. I love watching players make plays, learn new things, and being with them through the ups and downs of a season. But, this time with my family has been a positive one,” Hefner said. “Normally we would be separated at this time; they would be finishing up school and I would be with the team. I’m grateful for all these extra days I get with them.”

New Pitching Coach Hefner Throws Curve Into Mets’ Bullpen Mix

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

The New York Mets bullpen makes fans cringe just thinking about it. They’ve tried everything to improve it over the years through both additions and subtractions but nothing has really seemed to take hold.

This year, they’ve added Dellin Betances to the group that doesn’t have an anointed closer since Edwin Diaz completely imploded in 2019 and no one else stepped forward (other than swing starter Seth Lugo) to make their case as a reliable option.

One option, Justin Wilson, was used down the stretch and proved to be effective before being shut down the lat week of the season. In 45 appearances, Wilson had a 4-2 record with four saves and nine holds. He whiffed 44 batters in 39 innings with a 2.54 ERA.

This spring the Mets want to build on the 32-year-old Wilson’s strong finish. For most of his career, Wilson has relied on his 96 MPH fastball and cutter. New pitching coach Jeremy Hefner had an idea to widen Wilson’s arsenal by adding a curveball to the mix to make him a “weapon” rather than just another arm out in the bullpen.

From NorthJersey.com: 

“I think the introduction of that curveball has led him to be even more successful,” manager Luis Rojas said. “To have batters off balance and to have that breaking ball in the back of their head — and the separation of velocity (between that and his fastball) — I think it gives him that chance to throw fastballs by guys and get ahead with that breaking ball, bounce it if he needs to. So he’s got options out there.”

 

Added Hefner: “Mid-to-upper 90s fastball from the left side and a devastating cutter. You’re adding a third pitch in the mix. He easily can pitch at different points of the game, from closing to putting out a fire in the sixth. You can really deploy him in a variety of roles and it’s a real weapon for us.”

The Mets with a ‘weapon’ in the bullpen? What? When was the last time that happened? Don’t get too excited, yet, Met fans, Wilson says he still needs to polish the grip and delivery.

“It probably comes out of my hand a little bit better as far as spin,” Wilson said. “But I don’t know, maybe it was taking a little bit of pressure off the index finger. I really don’t know. You see (the improvement) instantly with all the electronics they have. Able to see hand position and all the things like that. Work in progress.”

Something to ponder as the Mets aim to compete in the NL East this season.

Coaching the New York Mets is Jeremy Hefner’s biggest challenge so far

New York Mets

The New York Mets will enter the 2020 season with a new pitching coach. Jeremy Hefner, who did a phenomenal job with the Minnesota Twins last season, will try to work his magic in Queens.

The 33-year old had a 8-15 mark in the big leagues with a 4.65 ERA and 4.15 FIP in 224.1 frames, all with the Mets between 2012 and 2013.

As Dan Hayes of The Athletic outlined in a fine article, Hefner has what it takes to be very good at absorbing and transmitting pitching knowledge.

Meet the New York Mets’ newest weapon

Hefner was a key cog in revitalizing the Twins’ pitching staff. Minnesota enjoyed excellent seasons from Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and others. The Twins staff, which had Hefner as an member, made a weapon out of Martin Perez’s cutter.

Hefner’s tenure with the Twins started in 2017 as an advanced scout. He ascended to the assistant pitching coach role in 2019.

He can be very helpful to a Mets organization that is often described as “dysfunctional.” His vision, inclination to include and use analytics and prowess at establishing successful communication channels with the players will be assets for the entire ballclub.

Hefner is good at soaking up analytics, digesting the information, and feeding it to his pitchers. He does it in a way they can understand it and apply the data in games.

The former Met is the quintessential filter of information that is so necessary in organizations nowadays.

Manager Carlos Beltran, when initially hired, expressed his desire to make analytics more user-friendly to his players.

License to dream

Imagine his work with a talented pitcher like Michael Wacha, or with Noah Syndergaard in his quests for consistency. The former can make the leap from injury-prone and underachiever to the solid, mid-rotation arm he was supposed to be, and the latter can take the next step from great hurler to truly elite. Mets’ fans can only dream, but they have the right to do so thanks to Hefner’s excellent track record.

Additionally, Hefner can help a rather underwhelming group of pitching prospects to sharpen their games and achieve their ceiling.

The gig with the New York Mets is the biggest challenge of Jeremy Hefner’s career so far,. That includes his time as a player. Now, he will call the shots pitching-wise. Now, he will impart knowledge.

The Mets are Stoked About Their New Coaching Staff

The New York Mets won 86 games in 2019 and hope their new coaching staff, which was finalized over the weekend, will take them to new heights and hopefully, the postseason.

The retooled staff will be brining back hitting coach Chili Davis and his assistant, Tom Slater, third base coach Gary DiSarcina, bullpen coach Ricky Bones and quality control coach Luis Rojas. Jeremy Accardo has been promoted to assistant pitching coach.

The new additions are bench coach Hensley Meulens, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and first base coach Tony DeFrancesco.

“We are excited to complete our coaching staff following a very thoughtful and extensive process,” Mets Executive Vice President & General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in press release on Sunday. “Carlos drove this search and prioritized talented coaches who share his player’s first vision and complement his skill sets.”

“I am looking forward to working with this talented, knowledgeable and experienced group,” Mets Manager Carlos Beltrán said. “Each member of the staff brings a unique perspective and expertise that will give myself and all of our players the tools they need to succeed.”

The Mets will benefit from Beltran’s well-respected reputation, especially among the Latin American players. Davis did a fine job as the team’s hitting coach in 2019. The Mets ranked second in the National League wRC+ (104), fifth in home runs (242) and sixth in OBP (.328) as well as slugging percentage (.442).

Hefner was drafted by the Mets as a pitcher twice, in 2004 and 2005, and pitched for two seasons from 2012-13. He most recently served as an assistant pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins. Hefner has the daunting task of straightening out the Mets’ shoddy bullpen starting with closer Edwin Diaz.

The key cog in this year’s staff will be Muelens, who spent the last 10 seasons with the San Francisco Giants – eight as a hitting coach and two as Bruce Bochy’s bench coach. He earned three World Series rings with the Giants.

The New York Mets have built a Tactically Diverse Coaching Staff

New York Mets to interview Carlos Beltran.

The New York Mets have done a phenomenal job of filling their coaching staff with diverse skill sets.

When the New York Mets fired Mickey Callaway fans were desperate for an experienced manager who would know how to lead this team into the future. Instead, the Mets hired Carlos Beltran, a person with no coaching experience whatsoever.

That has some fans scared that Beltran won’t be any better than Callaway. Specifically, they worry about his understanding of in-game tactics and his ability to take control of a locker room, not a leader among his peers but as a boss.

Mets’ fans should feel at ease knowing that the Mets built a strong staff that should help aid Beltran in every weakness he has. They have done a terrific job of bringing in coaches from a variety of different backgrounds, all of whom have different strengths. Some of whom have completely opposite opinions of how to help their players.

Those diverse ideas and strengths should only help the team grow this season. Hopefully, it helps them get where they should have been in 2019, the Playoffs.

The Natural Talent – Carlos Beltran, Manager

Carlos Beltran was considered one of the rising star managerial prospects in baseball for a reason. His natural baseball IQ and his leadership abilities have been on display for years now.

It started with the Yankees where Beltran took on a veteran leadership role and helped mentor the Yankees young players, like fellow outfielder Aaron Judge who made his debut at the end of 2016.

Beltran continued that role in Houston with the Astros where the players referred to him as another coach in the building. Carlos Correa in particular, loved Carlos Beltran and believed that he would be a fantastic manager one day.

Beltran spent the last two years with the Yankees and learned the craft from a front office and coach role. While there he learned analytics and he developed his skills as an evaluator and communicator. For example, he helped James Paxton stop tipping pitches and fix his mechanics.

This is all to say that Beltran is a natural fit as a manager. His natural connection and understanding of the game makes him a perfect fit for this young New York Mets’ team.

The Communicator – Hensley Meulens, Bench Coach

Hensley Meulens is known for his communication skills. He has been praised for it every place he has been in his career. A large reason for that is the effort Meulens goes to making himself available to speak to his players. He is the only coach in all of baseball who can speak five languages, English, Japanese, Spanish, Papiamento, and Dutch.

Being able to speak to players in their native tongue goes a long way for them. It helps build trust and a connection between the players and the staff.

Meulens will likely take the role of the clubhouse communicator for Beltran early on. Beltran still has to learn how to communicate as a boss, not as a peer or mentor. It’s a different kind of communication. Something that Meulens has experience with.

He was the Giants bench coach for two years and was the Netherlands manager for the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and 2017. He has the experience and knowledge that Beltran will need on how to run a clubhouse.

Bringing in Meulens to fill that role is a strong choice for the Mets and their coaching staff. It should make Beltran’s transition to manager easier from a clubhouse leader standpoint.

The Old-School Hitter – Chili Davis, Hitting Coach

Chili Davis will be returning to the Mets in 2020. After a successful run with the team in 2019, the Mets were able to reach a multi-year agreement with Davis.

This should be a good thing. Something about his approach seemed to resonate with the Mets last season as many players had career years, like Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and JD Davis.

Davis comes with an old-school approach. He dislikes the launch angle swing and he preaches putting the ball in play. For Davis a single is better than a walk. He thinks putting the ball on the ground is a sound strategy, and he wants his player to hit the other way as much as possible.

It’s an antiquated thought process, but one that seems to have resonated with the Mets. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened either. While with the Cubs Davis made a strong connection with Javy Baez who had an MVP caliber season, however his message didn’t mesh with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant so Davis was fired.

With the league so focused on analytics it could be nice to have a guy who is focused on finding ways to beat analytical pitchers and shifting, rather than try to out-smart them with numbers.

The Analytic Pitcher – Jeremy Hefner, Pitching Coach

Jeremy Hefner is returning to the New York Mets, and he brings his analytic approach with him. Jeremy Hefner was considered a rising star for his unbelievable understand and implementation of analytics. With the Twins, Hefner did a fantastic job of translating analytics into real strategies for their pitchers.

It led to elite results. The Twins went from a bottom-five team in the AL in pitching WAR in 2018 to a top-5 in the AL in pitching WAR in 2019. A lot of that has to do with Hefner and his ability to help his pitchers game plan around hitters.

For example, the Twins found a way to beat Pete Alonso in 2019. Alonso hit just .188/.316/.750 against the Twins. They couldn’t keep Alonso from hitting the ball loud when he hit it, but they counteracted that by making it so he only got three hits in two series. They shut down Jeff McNeil as well in 2019. McNeil hit .235/.278/.294 against the Twins.

The Mets may have won the season series against the Twins 3-1, but the Twins shut down the Mets’ big hitters. They forced everyone else in the lineup to beat them. That’s what Hefner brings to the table. The ability to help his pitchers figure out how to attack the most dangerous hitters in the opponents’ lineups and shut them down.

For a guy like Noah Syndergaard who has dominant stuff  but lacks in the mental parts of pitching, a guy like Hefner should be ideal. He can help Syndergaard build a gameplan and help him  attack batters in a smarter fashion.

Adding one of the leading analytic coaches in all of baseball is certainly a way to help your team in 2020. It should also help the New York Mets franchise in general catch up to the rest of the league in analytics. Something they have lacked for years.

New York Mets to Hire Jeremy Hefner as Pitching Coach

New York Mets hire Jeremy Hefner as pitching coach.

The New York Mets have once again turned to a former player to fill out their coaching staff. This time it’s former pitcher Jeremy Hefner.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Mets are set to hire Twins assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner as their new pitching coach.

Jeremy Hefner and the Mets have a long history together. The Mets drafted Hefner twice, but he did not sign with the team either team. Key Mets executive Omar Minaya was the GM during 2005, the second time the Mets drafted Hefner.

In 2009 Hefner was drafted by the Padres. He remained in their minor league system through 2011. In the offseason prior to the 2012 season, the Mets claimed Hefner off waivers. He would make his MLB debut for the team later that year.

Hefner spent his entire major league career with the Mets. He played with the team in 2012 and 2013. He made 36 starts and pitched in 50 games. Hefner wasn’t an effective pitcher, but he did have his stretches. Most notably a stretch from June through the all-star break in 2013 where Hefner had an ERA under 2.

However, as Hefner looked to finally be finding his footing in the MLB he tore his UCL. He had Tommy John surgery, but never returned to the majors. He retired after spending the entire 2016 season in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system.

Since retiring Hefner has thrown himself into analytics. He has become one of the leaders of analytic pitching in all of baseball. That led to Hefner being hired as an advance scout with the Minnesota Twins in 2018.

After an impressive year in that role, the Mets tried to poach Hefner for the 2019 season. They wanted to bring him on as the bullpen coach to replace longtime coach Ricky Bones. AS has happened many times before Hefner declined the Mets offer and stayed with the Twins. He was given a promotion to assistant pitching coach for 2019.

Hefner again impressed in his role. The Twins who were one of the worst pitching staffs in the AL in 2018 were a top-five staff in the AL in 2019. He became a hot candidate for the pitching coach jobs around the league, with one GM telling Andy Martino of SNY that he wanted to hire Hefner, but that he failed to bring him on board. That GM speculated it was because Hefner would be returning to the New York Mets to become their pitching coach.

That GM’s suspicions have been confirmed. The Mets were said to be looking for a young, analytically driven, rising star pitching coach. They certainly followed through with that having interviewed three individuals who fit the mold. None fit it better then Hefner does though. It also helps that Hefner has connections in the Mets’ front office in the Wilpons and Omar Minaya.

Jeremy Hefner joins Carlos Beltran as a former Met who has returned to the team to coach this year. This seems to be a theme with the team. They seem to prefer prior familiarity with their candidates in this hiring cycle.

Hopefully, all these returning faces live up to their hype. If they do it could be a special year in Queens.

New York Mets’ Pitching Coach: Jeremy Hefner’s the Favorite

According to a rival GM, Former New York Mets’ pitcher Jeremy Hefner seems set to become the team’s new pitching coach.

Andy Martino of SNY is reporting that a rival GM has predicted the Mets will hire Jeremy Hefner.

Hefner spent only two seasons in the majors during his playing career. Both of which he spent with the Mets in 2012 and 2013. During the 2013 season, Hefner tore his UCL and had Tommy John surgery. Something his career couldn’t rebound from.

If you don’t remember who Jeremy Hefner is, maybe this will jog your memory:

He came back to baseball in 2018 as an advance scout with the Minnesota Twins. In 2019 he was promoted to assistant pitching coach working directly under Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson.

With Hefner on board the Twins pitching staff improved drastically. In 2018 the Twins staff was eighth in the AL in pitching FWAR, but with Hefner on board in 2019 they jumped all the way to second in the AL.

This isn’t the first time the Mets tried to bring Hefner back to New York either. Prior to the 2019 season, the Mets attempted to bring in Hefner as their bullpen coach. Hefner declined and Ricky Bones kept the job on an interim basis.

Hefner’s coaching style is heavily reliant on advanced analytics. Since retiring he has focused on learning the new wave of statistics and how to best implement them. He is now regarded as one of the most analytically savvy coaches in all of baseball.

If the Mets do hire Hefner it would be further proof of Brodie Van Wagenen‘s bold nature. With a rookie manager in Carlos Beltran coming on board many in the media have speculated that the pitching coach might be the most important hire the team makes.

That’s due to the simple fact that Beltran has no experience coaching pitchers. So, whoever the pitching coach is will likely have the power to coach the pitchers however they like.

This has led many to believe that the Mets would target an experienced pitching coach with proven success, like Phil Regan. Regan was the Mets pitching coach for the majority of the 2019 season and helped turn around the Mets pitching staff.

Yet, it seems he won’t be returning in that capacity. Instead, the Mets are focusing on younger inexperienced candidates. Hefner is just 33-years old and has only one year of coaching experience. He has never been a pitching coach at any level.

Much like Carlos Beltran, Jeremy Hefner would be a gamble on an up-and-coming coaching candidate with a lot of buzz around him.