Elieser Hernandez is one of the Mets’ rotation depth arms as the 2023 season begins

Mar 24, 2023 - 2:00 PM
MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at <a href=New York Mets" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/fg2qyLCZAFKBpgMTdEsbZBUUJYw=/728x262:4624x2454/1920x1080/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/72110228/usa_today_20097290.0.jpg" />
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

If you hadn’t noticed the body of work that Elieser Hernandez has put together during spring training this year, it would be hard to blame you. One of two pitchers the Mets got in a trade with the Marlins early in the offseason, the 27-year-old is not in the KoST running.

At the time of this writing, Hernandez has an 8.31 ERA in 8.2 innings of Grapefruit League work. And while spring training stats should always be taken with a massive grain of salt, they do tend to factor in to roster decisions.

What made Hernandez appealing at the time of the trade, though, was some of his past work at the major league level, all of which came as a member of the Marlins. Coming off a year in which he posted a 6.35 ERA and a 6.40 FIP, the righty isn’t that far removed from being a fairly capable major league pitcher. Between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Hernandez made just 17 appearances, but he had a cumulative 3.84 ERA with 10.13 strikeouts and 2.21 walks per nine innings. And while he isn’t a hard thrower, Hernandez saw his velocity tick slightly upward last year, which you might not expect given the dismal results.

Even with José Quintana out for several months, Hernandez doesn’t seem to have any shot at making the Mets’ Opening Day rotation. Both David Peterson and Tylor Megill are comfortable ahead of him on the depth chart, though it’s worth noting that Hernadez has made a bunch of relief appearances in the big leagues—albeit with far worse results in that role than the ones he’s put up as a starter.

In all likelihood, the Mets will keep Herandez stretched out at Triple-A Syracuse to begin the year. If and when the team’s rotation has performance or injury issues, he could very well get a shot, assuming he’s pitching decently and healthy himself whenever that need arises. Even if everything goes smoothly this year, the Mets have said they intend to insert a sixth starting pitcher in their rotation at various points of the season. Hernandez has a year of options remaining, making him one of several arms the Mets could cycle in and out of their major league rotation as they see fit.

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