NEW YORK -- The Mets don't recognize this Jeremy Hefner.
This version of Hefner, tattooed for the second straight outing in Wednesday's 8-2 loss to Atlanta, hasn't resembled the pitcher who had the league's best ERA from June 4 until the All-Star break.
New York Mets
"We all look to the break as a chance to get some rest and get away from it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "And obviously coming out of the break he’s not the same guy going in."
Hefner had another poor performance after the All-Star break, coughing up six runs in 4 1/3 innings -- all coming on three home runs. Hefner has now gone a combined 6 1/3 innings in his two starts since the break, and has given up a combined 14 runs to Atlanta and Philadelphia.
"Obviously it's frustrating. The team is playing well, we're playing good defense and we're scoring runs. I'm not holding up my end of the deal," said Hefner, who fell to 4-8 with his second consecutive loss. "I want to be a big contributor to this team, and to make a playoff push we have to win a lot of games in a hurry and to have my performance tonight is unacceptable."
Hefner entered the break with a 1.76 ERA over his previous eight starts, helping the Mets find a starter who could complement ace Matt Harvey. That streak of great outings ended last time out against Philadelphia, as he allowed a career-high eight runs on 10 hits in just two innings, and he couldn't rebound Wednesday.
Hefner only yielded six hits, but three of them left the park. Evan Gattis hit a solo blast in the second to put Atlanta ahead. Dan Uggla added a three-run homer in the fifth. And Andrelton Simmons added a two-run rocket in the fifth to make it 6-0. The three home runs Hefner allowed were a career high, and he now has an 18.47 ERA in his last two starts.
Hefner and Collins both pointed to a lack of command.
"Just didn't execute," Hefner said. "Felt OK. I felt better the first four innings. Just didn't execute in the fifth inning and things sped up on me and I couldn't control it. That's all stuff that can be fixed. That's what I'm going to try to do."