Mejia the Number five for 2014….But for how long?

Published by Keith Gendron
     His 2013 ended prematurely in San Diego last August, while pitching in his most succesful stretch of big league starts. Jenrry Mejia was in the midst of his fifth start after being promoted in July from the minors, mowing down batters as he had the previous 4 starts. But, this one ended much sooner than expected as he could no longer pitch through the pain from bone spurs in his right elbow. He has had multiple shoulder and elbow issues since he made his original major league debut in 2010. He has had rotator cuff strains and Tommy John surgery previously and earlier in 2013 battled elbow tendintis.
     But this time around through the starts and stops he seemed to learn something along the way. With patience and perserverance, Mejia was “pitching” and not just throwing. His fast ball and 2 seamer were electric and was throwing his curve where it was supposed to go, in either setting batters up or putting them away. He also showed a change up in which I  recall hearing that Terry Collins knew nothing about him having prior to Mejia’s promotion. Jenrry was throwing strikes and had an heir of confidence on the mound, which was a pleasure to see after previous call ups.
     In Mejia’s five starts he threw 27.1 innings giving up 28 hits, but he only walked FOUR batters while striking out 27 pitching to a 2.30 era. This preceded by his minor league starts before promotion of 24.2 innings, 24 hits, 10 walks and 26 strikeouts and 2.55 era. Not too shabby for the projected number 5 starter in this years Mets rotation. The experience appears to have caught up with the talent and if Jenrry can stay healthy and thats a big IF then the Mets rotation is absolutely solid 1 through 5.
     But what happens when the likes of Montero and Syndergaard are promoted sometime in July? What will happen to Mejia’s shot then? I’m assuming Mejia may be on an innings restriction even if his arm is healthy this season. The same goes for Montero and Syndergaard. So, maybe one or 2 of them move to the bullpen at some point. Syndergaard pitched 117.2 innings last year and Montero 155.1, making him most likely to come up first if he continues progress. So, maybe Mejia moves to the bullpen in August since he has yet to throw more than the 108.2 innings he pitched in 2012.
     What will Mejia do with this opportunity? The Mets are looking to sign a veteran pitcher(John Lannan on Jan. 18th)to a minor league contract to compete with Mejia for the number 5 spot, but if Mejia is healthy and hasn’t forgotten what he’s learned, it should be no contest. Obviously, we will have to see how it all plays out and this conundrum of having too many quality arms is something I can learn to deal with and certainly the rest of the die-hard Mets fans too.

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