Yesterday the Mets made a trade to get Elieser Hernandez and Jeff Brigham from the Marlins for Franklyn Sanchez. This move was mainly made to get the Mets some much needed depth, as both still have options and can be sent to AAA.
Depth is extremely important for every ballclub and the Mets are fixing that issue fairly soon in the offseason. With this move the Mets added a relief arm in Brigham and a starting pitcher in Hernandez. So let’s take a deeper look into these two arms.
Let’s start with Elieser Hernandez. A 27 year old righty that has been with the Marlins for his whole MLB Career. He made his MLB debut in 2018 but had his best years in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, he helped the Marlins to the Postseason with a 3.16 ERA in 6 starts. His 2021 was solid with a 4.18 ERA in 11 starts. However, his 2022 was dreadful as he pitched to an ugly 6.35 ERA over 62.1 innings.
So what was his main issue in 2022? His slider. After three straight years with a positive run value on his slider (-13 between 2019 and 2022), his run value on that pitch was a negative plus 6 in 2022. So what was the reason for that drop off success with that pitch?
Main difference in his slider is his horizontal movement. After three seasons where his horizontal movement was average or better, he lost his movement with one of the worst inches of break in the league in 2022. That’s after he had one of the better horizontal break in 2020 (video below), in his best season yet. It resulted in a major downgrade in his expected slugging against for Hernandez as he went from .340 expected slugging to .430 from 2021 to 2022.
Even with the lost of his slider, he had an expected ERA of 4.81, which obviously isn’t great but also shows some lack of luck. If the Mets are able to get Hernandez to refind his slider, he could be a serviceable depth starter for this team.
Brigham is a 30 year old reliever who has battled numerous arm injuries over his career. When healthy in 2022, he was solid throwing his slider-fastball combination at hitters. In 2022, Brigham owned a 3.38 ERA over 24 innings, with 28 strikeouts. It was his first true succesfull stint.
2022 was the first season Brigham started to throw his slider more then his fastball. It resulted in a good year with solid numbers across the board. The run value on both his slider (-4) and fastball (-2) were above average for the first time in his career. Throwing his slider more also got his run value on his fastball above average for the first time. So clearly that adjustment paid off even when it was a small sample-size.
His slider is clearly his best pitch with an expected slash against him off .242/.305/.349 with a 22.2% hard hit rate. His fastball still gets hit fairly hard (expected OPS against .747, so pitching that less and less seems like a strong way to go.
In the end, both of these arms are depth. Especially Brigham, he would most likely see time with the big club and will battle for a spot during spring. Hernandez to me is more seen as AAA depth to make a spot start or do some mop up work. That being said, I believe this is solid depth for the big league club.
Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors on Twitter