Monday was a bit of a roller coaster ride for New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia. First, he was taken out of the Mets rotation in favor of Rafael Montero, a rookie slated to make his MLB debut on Wednesday. Then he was thrust into the bullpen but not into obscurity as he appeared just hours later in relief for the Mets at Yankee Stadium in the first installment of this year’s Subway Series.
Mejia (4-0) didn’t take long to make his presence felt out of the bullpen. He entered to record the final out of the seventh before pitching a scoreless eighth to set up Kyle Farnsworth for the ninth and ended up notching the win after the Mets rallied in the eighth to take the lead over for good in the Bronx.
Despite not losing a game in 2014, seven starts were all Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins needed to decide Mejia is better suited for the bullpen. Even though the first four starts were of quality, since then the 24-year old right hander has run into trouble the second and third time through the order. It had been three middle-inning implosions in as many starts for Mejia before the move and it cost the Mets all three games. Granted, the third of those only resulted in two runs but going over 100 pitches in less than five innings caused Collins to dip into his bullpen early and it resulted in a Mets loss.
Jenrry has made his concerns about pitching in relief clear. He attributes pitching in the bullpen to his needing Tommy John surgery as well as bone chips removed from his elbow last year. However, it seems that he understands this is what Alderson and Collins have deemed best for the team and he must follow suit. “I always want to help my teammates…I’ll go out there and be a reliever,” Mejia said according to a report from ESPN New York. “If they want me to go in the ninth inning, eighth inning, seventh, sixth, they’ve got to let me know,” he said. “That’s it.”
It’s good for both Mejia and the Mets that his attitude has come around because there is much to gain for both sides. Of course it also doesn’t hurt when you can come in right away and help the team win, especially against the crosstown rival Yankees.
Helping the Mets win games is exactly what Collins hopes for from Mejia, not to lock him up in the ‘pen and not appear very often. His intent is to give Mejia every opportunity to succeed in a big way and that’s what we should expect. The Mets bullpen is in shambles and dire need of help—something Mejia may be able to provide. He’s displayed electric stuff and a deep repertoire but it often comes in short stints rather than entire outings. There’s no question that as the game goes on, Mejia becomes less deceptive and hitters oftentimes make adjustments for the better. The first time through the order Mejia generally dazzles and with any consistency in his current role, we could even see Jenrry get a chance to close games down the road.
This is just the beginning of Mejia’s transition into the bullpen this season but early signs are good. It’s logical to assume his variety of pitches and ability to dominate early on in starts will translate to the bullpen where he’ll face no more than a few batters.
We’ll be monitoring Mejia’s progress carefully, looking to see if he helps provide any stability whatsoever in the Mets bullpen. It may have only been one game but so far, so good. Mejia goes to a spot to better help the team and the Mets find a way to get some of their young arms up to the big leagues sooner rather than later.
*Listen to the Subway Series edition of Yanks Go Yard radio where I appeared with host Ricky Keeler to discuss the four game series. A ton of fun, I hope to do it again sometime. Yanks Go Yard is full of insightful pieces on the Bronx Bombers that all should read if given the chance. Here’s the podcast: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yanks-go-yard/2014/05/12/ygy-series-preview-show-subway-series-edition-512-515