What do you know? Jenrry Mejia is thriving in the bullpen

Jenrry Mejia 3While some in the Mets’ circle (be it fans, media, what have you) begrudgingly did not like the fact that Jenrry Mejia was taken out of the rotation and put in to the bullpen, you really can not argue with the results.

Ever since going to the bullpen on May 12 after going 3-0 with a 5.06 ERA as a starter, Mejia has been a godsend in the bullpen, while eventually working his way to become the full-time closer. In his first relief appearance he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees while picking up the win in the process. It has been smooth sailing for Mejia ever since.

Since May 12 Mejia has pitched 9 1/3 innings while allowing just one run (unearned at that) on only eight hits and three walks while striking out nine batters. He has not blown any saves and is a perfect four-for-four in his chances. In his short time as closer, he already has the most saves on the team even though we are nearly two months into the season. So that should tell you how bad it’s been so far this year in the bullpen.

While Mejia does have electric stuff and a few pitches to work with, he clearly struggled in the rotation. His issue was getting through the lineup the second and-more specifically-the third time out, and almost predictably, it ended with him melting down.

Mejia may have just found his niche in the bullpen. With Bobby Parnell out for the year (and who knows how he’ll be when he comes back), and retreads like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde proving to be over the hill and broken down, the Mets finally have some youth at the back end of the bullpen, which is something they sorely lacked.

Sure, his prior health issues are a concern in the bullpen, as he often has to get up and stretch himself out on a nearly daily basis. But, so far ,so good on that front.

Mejia has already pitched in both games of a doubleheader (last Sunday) while also pitching two innings to close out the Mets 4-2 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday night. There have been no issues with Mejia taking on the extra load.

With the back of the bullpen being a major weakness, Mejia has calmly eased into the role while fortifying the position tenfold. Considering the Mets have a crop of decent arms on the staff and more down on the farm (not to mention Matt Harvey coming back eventually), this move, in retrospect, made all the sense in the world.

While management has made some pretty terrible and baffling decisions, this is one move they can hang their hat on, as Mejia has found his groove in this role. Even though he expressed some trepidation about going to the bullpen, Mejia has looked awfully comfortable back there. Or is that just me?

Let’s just hope that the people in front of him do their jobs so he can have more opportunities. For now, let’s enjoy that Mejia may have found his true calling.

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10 comments for “What do you know? Jenrry Mejia is thriving in the bullpen

  1. Name
    May 29, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I still think the guy who had a 1.99 ERA after 4 starts was still in there somewhere and could be rediscovered, but Montero seemed more impressive in the minor leagues so i was OK with the switch.

    Apart from yesterday, he was throwing a lot more strikes when he moved to the bullpen.
    38/20 k/bb ratio as a starter
    9/3 k/bb ratio as a reliever.

  2. May 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t care who the player is — you never want to use him in a sub-optimal role. I have no doubt that 1985 Gooden would have been a remarkable closer. But I’d rather have him pitching 7+ innings every five days.

    For me there are two questions: Do we have five starters better than Mejia? Is it more of a risk to his health to be in one role or the other?

    I don’t believe there is an easy answer to either question. Personally, I thought the Mets jumped the gun moving him to the pen but I wouldn’t term it a bad decision.

    But I hated the fact that they basically told him he was unjustified for being worried about pitching in back-to-back games. The guy’s injuries can be traced back to when he was first moved to the pen. I thought it was far less than ideal that they essentially told him to quit worrying and just do it.

    From a distance, he seems to have adapted well to the role. May his arm hold up and may JDG or Montero or Syndergaard pitch so well that there’s no thoughts to jerking Mejia around anymore this season.

  3. Mack Ade
    May 29, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Good article.

    You know me… don’t stop here… move Montero to the back end when Gee comes back and keep showcasing Dice-K in the rotation.

    A back-end bullpen of Mejia, Familia, and Montero ends the leaking.

    • May 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Why shove Montero into the bullpen? Mejia was developing a track record of getting hit the third time around, but I thought Montero had a little more length in him.

  4. Jerry Grote
    May 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I sound like a broken record, but … most notable is his control, not his record against batters the third time around.

    Last year, he walked 4 of 108 batters as a starter.
    This year, he walked 3 of 37 batters in relief.

    That latter number is higher than 2013, but not like
    This year, he walked/hit 22 of 169 batters.

    9 innings is a small sample, but its pretty consistent with seven minor league seasons. I think he’ll be fine.

    You just can’t triple the number of free baserunners allowed (4% versus 13%) without penalty.

    Ultimately Mejia should return to the rotation. He’s the third most talented pitcher on the team (fourth including Harvey), and you should get as many innings as you possibly can out of that cannon. Period, end of discussion.

    • Jerry Grote
      May 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      uh, the last set of numbers, 22 of 169, represents this year as a starter, in case that wasn’t abundantly clear.

  5. Dan Stack
    May 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I would be upset with the move of Mejia to the bullpen if we lacked the necessary arms to compete. I’m ok with Mejia to the bullpen since we have Harvey (when he returns), Wheeler (no one should be giving up on him so soon), Gee (a rock when healthy) Niese (see Gee), Montero, deGrom and eventually Syndergaard. Not to mention we have Colon for another year (if not flipped at the AS Break) and Hefner too. So, again, I don’t like putting good arms in the bullpen, but considering what we have in the rotation, this is one instance where it makes sense. BTW, love the new layout!

  6. May 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Relievers are (generally) pitchers that couldn’t make it as starters. I’m definitely of the opinion that you don’t shove someone with the starter potential of Mejia into the BP without being absolutely sure he can’t make it as a starter. He most certainly hasn’t been given the chance to make a decision like this.

    In my opinion, this is a desperation move to improve an awful bullpen, much like it was the first time they put Mejia there. At this point, though, nothing about this team surprises me. I’ve become numb to the nonsense. Meh.

  7. Jim OMalley
    May 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Watching the game now. Black just finished the 8th and it should be Mejia in the 9th. The collapses which Mejia experienced as a starter were tremendously disheartening. If placing him in the 9th yields successes, then it helps instill the culture of winning back in the team. It’s like that book, “The inner Game of Tennis” which says certain players win because they learn how to win. You do have to watch and monitor for possible injuries though so there is an element of caution which needs to be maintained.

  8. Patrick Albanesius
    May 30, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Mejia has a max effort delivery. I think he stood more of a chance hurting himself in the 6th or 7th inning as a starter, than he will if he pitches three days in a row. Just my opinion though. He is flourishing, and with the way Familia and Black look right now, the bullpen looks a million times better than it did in April.

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