The Mets have designated left-hander Zach Muckenhirn for assignment, tweets Will Sammon of The Athletic. His spot on the 40-man roster will go to right-hander Elieser Hernandez, who has been reinstated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Hernandez has been out all season due to a shoulder strain.
Muckenhirn, 28, signed a minor league deal with the Mets over the winter and made his big league debut earlier this season. He’s tallied six innings in the Majors, yielding four runs on 11 hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts. His work in Triple-A has produced far better results; Muckenhirn boasts a sensational 0.88 ERA in 30 2/3 frames, although his 15.7% strikeout rate and 10.7% walk rate don’t exactly support that minuscule ERA. Muckenhirn has induced grounders at a hearty 50% clip, but he’s also benefited from a .230 average on balls in play and a mammoth 95.2% strand rate in Syracuse so far.
Now that he’s been designated for assignment, Muckenhirn will either be traded, placed on outright waivers or released within the week. He still has all three minor league option years remaining (2023 included), so between that and his strong performance in Triple-A, Muckenhirn could well hold appeal to other clubs in search of left-handed bullpen depth.
At times, the 28-year-old Hernandez has looked like a solid big league starter with the division-rival Marlins. From 2020-21, he started 17 games with Miami and notched a 3.84 ERA with above-average strikeout and walk rates of 26.4% and 5.7%, respectively. That production came in a sample of 77 1/3 innings thanks to a lat strain, biceps inflammation and a quad strain. His 2022 season was nightmarish, however. Hernandez struggled en route to a 6.35 ERA, losing his rotation spot along the way. Hernandez’s strikeout and walk rates trended in the wrong direction last year, and his average of 2.74 homers per nine innings pitched is one of the higher marks from a pitcher in recent memory.
Those red flags notwithstanding, Hernandez is a 28-year-old righty who’s only one year removed from quality rotation work spread across two seasons. He’s allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with 10 punchouts across a pair of rehab starts thus far. Hernandez will continue building up in Syracuse and figures to be in the mix should the Mets need to further tap into their rotation depth again in the season’s second half.