The Mets have claimed right-handed reliever Heath Hembree off waivers from the Reds, per a club announcement. Ace Jacob deGrom was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster. The Mets have already been without deGrom for more than a month, and he wasn’t expected back until September anyhow. He’ll be eligible to return on Sept. 15.
Hembree, 32, was serving as the Reds’ closer earlier this summer before a rough few weeks caused his ERA to balloon up to a dismal 6.38 mark. Unsightly as that ERA is, Hembree was lights-out from late June through late July, pitching to a 1.42 ERA with a 19-to-5 K/BB ratio and racking up seven saves in a span of 12 2/3 innings. That hot streak obviously came in a very small sample, but it’s worth noting — and this is likely what drew the Mets to him — that Hembree has been among the game’s best in terms of missing bats all season.
Among the 321 pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings this year, Hembree’s 38 percent strikeout rate is the game’s seventh-highest mark. He’s tied for 15th in that same set of pitchers with a 27.4 K-BB% and sits 18th with a 2.84 SIERA. He’s largely been done in by the long ball this season, serving up 10 dingers in 44 2/3 innings of work (2.13 HR/9). Seven of those home runs have come at the extremely hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, however, where Hembree’s ERA is north of 8.00. He’s been much better on the road, and a change of scenery could do him some good.
As for deGrom, the Mets said last week that he’d go at least another two weeks without throwing, so it’s unlikely he’d have been able to return much sooner than Sept. 15 anyhow. Once he starts throwing, he’ll need to build up sufficient arm strength to get back to the mound and hopefully make a few starts for the Mets down the stretch as they look to pull out of the spiral that has seen them fall from a comfortable lead in the NL East to a sub-.500 record and a five-game gap between the now-division-leading Braves.