Jenrry Mejia’s long term future is in the bullpen

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Opinion
Tags: ,

By Steven Inman

Jenrry Mejia is just 22 years old and yet he has been in the big league spotlight for a few seasons now. It all started in 2010 when Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya decided that Mejia would come to camp as a reliever with a chance to make the team. He looked sharp in spring and they brought him to the big leagues even though he wasn’t quite ready. Now two years later and after a yearlong absence after Tommy John Surgery is back in the big leagues still without an answer to what his future holds.

Every scout and executive from any other team believes Mejia is a reliever but the Mets continue to start him in the minor leagues and have given him a few big league starts. Jenrry has a very violent delivery, one that makes him more likely to get an injury as a starter after throwing 110 pitches in a game. His delivery could cause him to get injured either way but he is more likely to stay healthy as a reliever.

 Mejia faced the Pirates tonight and although the result was positive in 5 scoreless innings, Mejia had to labor to get through them. Being at the game I noticed hitters were squaring up his fastball because he was unable to throw his curveball over for strikes consistently. The Mets gun had Mejia topping out at 97-98 but I think that was way too high from what I saw more likely 94-95.

Mejia was able to hit 97 as a rookie in 2010 out of the pen because he was only throwing 15 to 20 pitches at a time and was able to just air it out. Out of the pen Mejia only needs to throw his fastball and curveball but if the Mets were to make him a starter he needs to perfect that curveball in addition to finding a third pitch which he currently does not have.

Watching Mejia tonight was excruciating as he was behind every hitter and worked a full count on just about every Pirates hitter the first time through the batting order. He found a nice grove in his 4th and 5th inning but I really believe Mejia is more valuable to the Mets, or somebody else coming out of the pen as an 8th or 9th inning guy instead of as a 5th starter who struggles to get through 5 innings before he gets to 100 pitches and is extremely homer prone.

Mejia got his first big league win tonight but the Pirates have been struggling more than the Mets and had just lost 5 out of 6 to the Astros and Cubs. I wouldn’t read too much into the 5 scoreless innings as the Pirates have struggled to hit most pitchers these days. They were squaring up the fastball to hit up the middle and laid off his curveball. The curveball had break but he was unable to get called strikes with in early on.

Whatever the Mets decide to do with Mejia, they need to decide quickly as jerking him around from rotation to bullpen is definitely not good for a young inexperienced arm. Just ask the Yankees and Joba Chamberlain.

The bottom line is next season the Mets rotation will look like R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, and Dillon Gee with Zack Wheeler waiting in the wings. This is considered the strength of the team and there doesn’t appear to be room for young Jenry Mejia. The weakness of this team appears to be the bullpen and with no money to spend on relievers relying on internal options like Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia may be the Mets best move anyway.

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