Jeremy Hefner’s pitching plan to deliver Mets peak Jacob deGrom

Jeremy Hefner’s pitching plan to deliver Mets peak Jacob deGrom

PORT ST. LUCIE — The pitching plan is taking shape for the Mets and come Sunday Jacob deGrom is tentatively set to take the mound for the first time this spring in a game against the Nationals at Clover Park.

This has been a steady build for deGrom and the rest of the Mets starters under new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

“Spring training can get long. We are building them up in a fashion that sets them up for success in the season. We don’t want any huge spikes in workload,’’ Hefner told The Post Monday of his plan.

“They’ve been on this trajectory now in the offseason, so they build volume up in the weight room. They build volume up in running. They build volume up in their long toss and now we’ll start to decrease some of that and increase some of the game action.’’

DeGrom is coming off two straight Cy Youngs. Over the last two seasons deGrom has thrown 421 innings with 524 strikeouts and only 90 walks. He is pitching gold.

The Mets are keeping a close watch on deGrom’s overall workload. He can peak too early, so timing is everything with the right-hander.

“We think Jake is in a real good spot,’’ Hefner said. “And it’s the same for every guy. It’s the same in the sense that they have this workload that they have been built up to and now they are going to start getting into games. Everyone’s workload is not the same but everyone is starting to get into the phase of build up to the games.’’

For Hefner there is close attention to detail.

Mets
Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner oversees a bullpen session by Jacob deGrom.Anthony J Causi

“It’s not that much more different than it has been in the past, probably a little more scientific than it has been in the past, just a little bit knowing how many throws we are throwing,’’ Hefner explained. “We only have so many bullets in the chamber. So we are just trying to make sure that we really take care of guys, understand like what a bullpen [session] actually looks like and how much stress that puts on the body, as opposed to long toss, as opposed to in the game, as opposed to the weight room, as opposed to the conditioning field, as opposed to sleep and travel and trying to be holistic about it. That’s the scientific part. We have numbers on this now.’’

Evaluations are taking place, day to day.

“It’s not so much, ‘Well, he threw a bullpen [session] today and now he’s going to be off for two days.’ Maybe it’s just one day or maybe he doesn’t need a bullpen at all,’’ Hefner said. “Just trying to make sure that we really take care of the guys because, for us to do the things we want to do this year, they need to be on the field the whole year.

“These guys are great, not only are they great baseball players, they are great human beings as well,’’ Hefner said. “They keep me in line just as much as I try to help them as much as I can. It is a fun group to work with. They are hungry and for some of them it’s money, some of them it’s status, but all of them, it’s winning the World Series. That’s the most important thing.

“I don’t care what their driver is as long as they want to win the World Series. Then we’re good.’’

Hefner is about building relationships.

“He is just so humble,’’ assistant GM Allard Baird said. “It’s fun to see him in a meeting. He’s one of those guys who may be the smartest guy in the room but he is asking more questions than anybody else and that’s pretty good.’’

Michael Wacha will start Tuesday in Lakeland against the Tigers. Noah Syndergaard will go Wednesday against the Astros, Rick Porcello, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman have already started games.

Hefner is quick to point to the work done by his fellow pitching coaches Ricky Bones, Jeremy Accardo and Phil Regan, who took over last year when Dave Eiland was fired and is working the camp as well at the age of 82.

“Ricky, Jeremy and Phil last year, they set me up for all this,’’ Hefner said. “If they hadn’t have done what they did last it would not be as easy of a road.’’

The long road is just beginning.

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