The starting rotation has been the fuel behind the Mets early season success. In the last 10 games, the starter ERA is 1.84, and the bullpen has backed them up enabling the team to win seven of them. More importantly, the Mets have been in each game, for the most part, by the time the seventh inning rolled around. In the midst of these solid pitching performances has been Jenrry Mejia, who is rapidly becoming a fan favorite in the early going and dare I say “ace” of the starting staff. As the Marlins come in to New York for a three game set, Mejia is scheduled to start Saturday night, hopefully spurring a few more walk-up ticket sales than an ordinary April night game.
Through his first four starts, Mejia is 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA. In 22.2 IP, he’s tallied 25 Ks, while yielding 16 H and 14 BB. The walks, while high, are less alarming when you watch him pitch. The command of his secondary pitches and the scarcity of line drives never appear to give the Mets fans the feeling imminent trouble is upon them; a far out concept considering the “doom and gloom” the average Mets fan harbors during most viewings. That’s the point regarding Mejia, his starts last year coupled with his four early starts this year has energized the fan base the way only a dominant starter could; much like Harvey last year, and Dwight Gooden did in the past albeit both in much longer and consistent fashion. It’s not fair to compare Mejia with those two stars just yet, but the buzz in Citi Field is indeed prominent as a result of his presence.
Mejia has a lot of work to do if he’s going to match the success of even Harvey for a full season. He has yet to pitch into the seventh inning this year, mostly due to high pitch count and a watchful eye of Terry Collins who is fully aware of Mejia’s injury history. In his past two starts, Mejia has been dealing with a nagging blister which hasn’t appeared to bother his velocity or breaking pitches, not at all in fact. The snap of his sliders and sink on some of his fastballs have been eye-popping. The league is hitting only .193 against him in the early going and yet Mejia is still is over his career average in groundball to fly ball ratio which is 1.48. The league average in 2013 was 1.39.
Mejia’s star should only grow and the pressure on him to succeed has never been lower. He entered the season as the “fifth starter” by media and fans, a label that should change as his success rises. He has ace stuff and a flamboyant style and demeanor on the mound that could propel him into stardom this season. Come Saturday night, the Mets should be in prime position to keep the good vibes going with Mejia helming the bump in Flushing. If you don’t have tickets, get ‘em or tune in. It’s must see TV!