Jenrry Mejia: Starter or reliever?

The Mets pitching has more than one problem right now. After placing Miguel Batista on the DL, they only have four starters, and their bullpen is ranked as one of the worst in the league. With all the pitching problems the Mets may be looking for some changes. They could look outside of the organization, but for a team that is looking to cut back on costs, they’ll most likely stay within to fix the problem. And if the Mets farm system is known for anything, it’s their promising young pitchers.

Between Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, and Zack Wheeler, the Mets have a bright future for their pitching staff. One name that is often forgotten from the list of prospects is Jenrry Mejia, who missed most of the 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery.

Now Mejia has started to make his comeback a year after having the surgery. He’s made two starts at single-A St. Luice going 11 innings, giving up three runs, eight strikeouts, and two walks. He then got moved up to double-A Binghamton yesterday for a start, going three innings, giving up one run,  three strikeouts, and no walks. Mejia was only pulled after the third inning because he was on a pitch count.

According to Adam Rubin, the Mets may be looking to move Mejia to Triple-A Buffalo in order to get some work as a relief pitcher. After being moved to Binghamton it’s unclear whether he will stay there and what his role will be. With Mejia coming back from this major surgery, the Mets need to pick whether they want to use Mejia as a starter or a reliever.

Looking at the young arms the Mets have, putting him in the bullpen might be the smarter move. With Harvey and Wheeler looking to become fixtures in the rotation soon, there might not be room for Mejia in the rotation.

Where there is room for him is in the struggling Mets bullpen. Mejia still needs more time in the minors before the Mets can bring him up, but they need all the help they can get right now, and quick. And with the fading confidence in Frank Francisco as closer, the Mets may want to think of Mejia as the potential 9th inning guy.

I’ve always been a fan of having a strong bullpen and trying to put your efforts there, but I saw Mejia as a starter before the surgery. Now, with more arms in the farm system, I think it would be wiser to move Mejia to the bullpen.

Personally, I see Harvey and Wheeler in the rotation, and Familia and Mejia in the bullpen. However, it’s going to take a while for them all the reach the majors, but with struggles of the pitchers right now, I’m hoping they can get up here soon.

22 comments for “Jenrry Mejia: Starter or reliever?

  1. chavez06
    May 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I respectfully disagree with your statement “there might not be room for Mejia in the rotation.” Today, Mets only have three legitimate starters – Sanatana, Dickey, Niese. One would have to think Santana is here only through next season. Are the Mets going to pick-up his $24 mil option in 2014? I doubt it. How long is Dickey going to be in the rotation? Assuming everyone staying healthy (a huge assumption), how about a rotation of Santana, Dickey, Niese, Mejia, and Harvey next year and Wheeler can replace Santana in 2014. Still need someone to replace Dickey – I’m looking at you Tapia.

    I too like having a strong bullpen. It’s demoralizing to a team when a lead is wiped out in late innings. But, I think Mets do have many options for the pen coming up. Let’s start with Familia. I think his secondary stuff is less developed than that of Mejia or Harvey’s and therefore more suited for the pen. From what I’ve read, he’s has the mental toughness to be a closer. Other options are Elvin Ramirez, Edgin. A pen of Familia, Francisco, Parnell, Byrdrak, Carson/Edgin, Elvin Ramirez should be good. Guys like McHugh, Gorski, Rosario, Leathersich all could be in the mix.

    The way I see it, Mets should give Mejia every chance to succeed as a starter and move him to the pen only if he fails. Having Tommy John surgery is not a reason to move him to the pen.

    • David Groveman
      May 21, 2012 at 10:38 am

      You made all of my points for me… I second what you have said.

    • Metsense
      May 21, 2012 at 11:44 am

      “The way I see it, Mets should give Mejia every chance to succeed as a starter and move him to the pen only if he fails.” and the other pitchers you mentioned “all could be in the mix” for the future bullpen makes all the sense in the world. Good post chavez06!!! Starting pitching is a wanted commodity in the major leagues and devaluing a player so early in his career would be a mistake.

    • TomG
      May 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      I disagree on Dickey. He’s a knuckler, and can be a rotation fixture for quite some time into the future (assuming the Mets pick up his 2013 option and he resigns after that)

    • Graham
      May 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Dickey has been the most consistant pitcher this team has seen in a long time…He is a great teamate, he plays through pain, is realitively inexpensive, and drives other teams ape-sht. He is the only pitcher on this team I have no doubts about for one reason or another.

    • May 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      I’d much rather have Dickey in the rotation for years to come than Niese, to be honest. I like Niese OK but I don’t see what the organization sees apparently. He’s not a rookie anymore.. I kinda hoped for more outta him by now. But yeah, I’d rather see Dickey in the rotation but that’s assuming Wheeler, Harvey and Mejia come up and pitch well. Dickey would be the best 5th starter ever! Haha. That’s ALSO assuming the dick’ can keep it up ;)

      • Brandon Lee
        May 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        Well his future is uncertain on the Mets. Niese just signed a a five year extension so his future with the Mets is much brighter.

  2. May 21, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I agree with chavez06. Just because Jerry Manuel was trying to save his job and made Mejia into a reliever – it doesn’t mean that Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson should do the same thing. Let him be a SP as long as he can get outs on a consistent basis.

  3. Brandon Lee
    May 22, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I think in this day and age it’s much more easier to find a good starting pitcher than a good relief pitcher. I don’t think sending Mejia to the bullpen is a punishment, or a move that says he is incapable of starting. If the Mets can groom Mejia into a closer or even a set-up man, he’ll be much more valable there as aposed to a middle of a rotation guy.

    • Paul
      May 22, 2012 at 11:59 am


      • Brandon Lee
        May 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        Take a look at the free-agents next year.
        How many of those starters could you sign to be mid-rotation guys? I see easily 20 names. Now take a look at the relief pitchers. How many of those guys would you trust as your closer? How many would you even trust as a set-up man?

        • Paul
          May 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

          I don’t think citing a list of free agents is enough to prove your point. Bullpens are a crapshoot, and best built through creative trades and waiver wire pickups. IMHO, the best bullpens can be built with revolving doors and very few free agents, not a bunch of mercenaries that you’re stuck with on the big league roster regardless of performance. The problem with the bullpen Alderson/Collins have been way too patient with the moveable guys and have made too many commitments to guys like Rauch, Fransisco, Ramirez, Byrdak, etc. (Byrdak has been good and Rauch has been ok, but that’s besides the point)
          Point is, Mejia has more value as a starter as has shown flashes of dominance that would be wrong to ignore at this stage. The bullpen just needs a combination of time and pro-activity by Sandy.

          • Brandon Lee
            May 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm

            Well you just kind of proved my point. Bullpens are consistently changing because of inconsistency. Finding a guy who can be a fixture in the bullpen for many years sures up a lot of things. I think building a strong bullpen is something not a lot of team’s have and having the better bullpen gives you an advantage in the game.
            I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer with Mejia. He has a ton of talent and a lot of potential to help this club in whichever form.

    • quackthebush
      May 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm


  4. May 22, 2012 at 8:37 am

    The average pitcher in the NL this year has a 3.74 ERA. Do you think the Mets would pull the trigger on a deal in which they gave up RP Bobby Parnell (2.79 ERA) for SP Chad Billingsley (3.91 ERA)? If the Dodgers proposed that deal, the Mets would agree on the spot, before they had the chance to change their minds. There’s just no way a set-up man is more valuable than a mid-rotation guy.

    • Brandon Lee
      May 22, 2012 at 11:56 am

      I’m still not sure the Mets would do it because it would leave a huge whole in their bullpen. They do need a starter right now, but Chris Young isn’t too far from returning.
      I’m advocating Mejia to the bullpen because of their particular situation. Pelfrey will most likely be brought back next year and Harvey should be up by then. The rotation would be Johan-Dickey-Niese-Harvey-Pelfrey, I just don’t see where Mejia fits in there. Now if the situation changes with Pelfrey and he’s not here next year than I could see Mejia in the rotation.

  5. May 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I’m with the previous commenters here. He’s a starter until he shows he can’t be a starter. Get him back to the Buffalo rotation, and get him innings.

  6. apagano
    May 22, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I don’t think the needs of the ML team should have any bearing on what happens with Jenrry Mejia. If he’s that good and you don’t have room in your rotation for him, then you either make room or you deal him.

    Mejia’s future role should be dictated by his ability and his stamina. The various scouting reports I’ve read indicate that Mejia’s fastball and changeup are already good enough for him to be a major league reliever. He needs to refine his breaking ball in order to become an effective starter. Is it wise to tell a kid who has had TJ surgery to throw a lot of breaking balls so soon after his recovery? I don’t know…is there a doctor here who can answer that?

    Can he imrpove his breaking ball enough to be a major league starter? Perhaps, but there is still the question of his durability. Mejia is in his 6th professional season and has yet to throw more than 94 innings in any of them. He might not get that far above 94 innings this year. No matter what happens, he will enter 2013 without the benefit of having spent a full year starting every 5th day. I also believe that 2013 will be his final option year, which could factor in the decision as well.

    I trust this front office to make the right decision. My imperfect amateur analysis leans towards him becoming a reliever.

    • Brandon Lee
      May 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Well the fact is that the needs of the Major League team do affect what happens when you come to the majors. Murphy’s not playing second base right now because he’s good at it. The position he plays is already filled, but the team still needs him so they use him at a position they need more help with.

  7. Paul
    May 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I think it’s silly to assume that all or any of Harvey, Familia, Wheeler, etc will make the big league rotation or even the big leagues. The farm system has to be a numbers game in order to succeed. In this case, the more high upside starters you have in the minors, the better chance you have of one of them panning out. Decreasing that number is just bad business.

    Regardless, having too many starting pitchers is a good problem to have. There’s always the trade market.

    Also, this idea that an injury prone pitcher is better off in the bullpen is a fallacy at best. For some reason there’s been an irrational obsession with innings in the baseball world, without regard to how often a pitcher throws, warms up, etc. All signs point to keeping Mejia a starter until he fails. He has not done that yet.

  8. JB
    May 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Plenty of teams have their future starters cut their teeth in the major leagues coming out of the bullpen, especially if they have innings limits. Santana and Lirano did that with Minnesota at the start of their careers.

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