While many of us Mets fans were clamoring for Jenrry Mejia to be the Mets fifth starter, it just doesn’t seem it’s going to happen.
For whatever reason the Mets have, they are going to ether send Mejia to the bullpen (although Sandy Alderson is refuting that notion) or the minors where he can get regular work. Not to mention, he has a nagging bunion at the moment. So, now the final spot of the rotation will either go to Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan. From all indications the job will be Matsuzaka’s. The Mets are set to pay the $100,000 retention bonus to Matsuzaka to keep the right to have him open the season on the major-league roster.
So while we might want Mejia to have the job, Matsuzaka has done a fine job in his own right this spring in cementing the spot. Thus far this spring Matsuzaka has 3.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 17 strikeouts to just four walks in 18 2/3 innings.
Matsuzaka likely sewed up the spot by throwing six innings and allowing just one earned run on three hits and three walks while also striking out five batters in the Mets 5-3 win over the Cardinals on Monday.
After some bumps along the road when the Mets initially signed him last summer, Matsuzaka eventually would settle down and be a boon to the Mets rotation. He ended the season going 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his last four starts. Hence the reason why the Mets were so interested in bringing him back this year.
As they proverbially say, “you can never have enough pitching.”
With the way he ended last season and with the investment the Mets put in him, Matsuzaka deserved to get a long, hard look this spring and so far he looks like he is up to the task. Sure, he is not the pitcher he once was when he was a staple in Boston’s rotation, but it looks like after recovering from Tommy John surgery three years ago, Matsuzaka is finally getting back into the groove of things.
So as fans, we should harness all of our energy and support Matsuzaka, now that Mejia is probably not the guy. It’s not like Matsuzaka is chopped liver.
For a team with eyes on competing this year, the thought of making Matsuzaka a part of the rotation makes sense. Matsuzaka has been through the media grinders in Boston and now New York and he is well equipped to handle expectations. Maybe he will crash and burn, but if Matsuzaka fails, well, the Mets certainly have the pitching depth to absorb any potential hit they might endure if Matsuzaka flops. If he does well and the team struggles, then the Mets can dangle Matsuzaka at the deadline.
With a stable crop of young pitchers in the minors (Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, etc.) and Matt Harvey rehabbing, Matsuzaka being a part of the Mets’ rotation is just a stop-gap option at the moment.
For the time being, let’s all get behind Matsuzaka and hope he pitches well, because if he does then the Mets will be better off for it.