Some good news in Queens: New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia is relishing in his new role as closer. The right hander has made considerable and perhaps unexpected strides in the past two weeks going from embattled starter to effective reliever at a time where both he and the Mets needed it. The transformation began when Terry Collins shifted Mejia from the starting rotation to the bullpen before just prior to the Subway Series.
Mejia, 25, has had reservations about coming out of the bullpen with the belief that pitching on consecutive days contributed to his injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. As it stands now it looks like Mejia has gotten over his issues and has embraced being in the bullpen, even to the point of pitching effectively twice in one day and taking a hold of the closer’s role. Mejia suffered his first loss in hard-luck fashion thanks to a ninth inning error but the impression left after was a positive one for Terry Collins, the Mets and their fans.
Mejia was given an important job in the back end from the day he was moved out there and he’s delivered to this point. In seven relief appearances, the starter-turned-closer has converted all three save opportunities and has yet to allow an earned run. It’s a short sample, sure but the prospect of Mejia’s success is more promising for New York than Jose Valverde (who has been released) or Kyle Farnsworth.
Mejia has electric stuff and a variety of pitches that he can throw in a multitude of counts to get hitters out, so long as his control is there. However, it was becoming obvious during his starts that he lost deceptiveness as the game went on. The adjustment of hitters the second and third time through the order put them at an advantage against Jenrry. Pitching out of the bullpen doesn’t require Mejia to save his arm for later innings and allows the benefit of only facing hitters once, the situation where he most effective.
A highly competitive athlete, Mejia likely wanted to stay in the rotation so he could remain relevant. Collins has done him and the Mets a service sticking him in an important role and one he has the ability to succeed at as well. The bigger problem for the Amazin’s could be finding a way to give Mejia the chance to save games. Still, for the first time this season Met fans can be excited about having a young, live arm at the end of games. Especially one that could impact the team’s future in a positive way.
We can’t be certain how long Mejia will hold the closer’s job but we can be sure that it’s his job to lose. Terry Collins is practically begging for a stopgap at the back end of his bullpen and Jenrry will continue to get every opportunity to be that guy.