Even without Matt Harvey, the New York Mets have themselves a fine rotation with Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and free-agent newcomer Bartolo Colon set to anchor the staff. However, one question mark that remains is who will grab hold of the fifth spot?

Terry Collins has publicly stated that he would like to have a veteran presence for the fifth spot and is leaning toward tabbing either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan for the spot. It’s not a terrible line of thinking, considering when healthy, Matsuzaka and Lannan have made for dependable arms in the past.

However, the thinking here should be that Jenrry Mejia is ready to blossom and he should be given every chance to claim the spot. But for whatever reason, he is not.

Mejia’s potential for success could prove to be the x-factor for the Mets this year. After starting five games last season and doing well (compiling a 2.30 ERA and fanning 27 batters in 27 1/3 innings) in his time in the rotation last year, Mejia had to be shutdown with elbow soreness. He would go on to get surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

It looks like Mejia is healthy now, though, and has done well in spring training thus far.  He has pitched four innings while giving up only one unearned run on one hit and two walks. Seeing as though you should want the best pitcher to win the spot, he should be the one to get the most consideration.

With the way he ended 2013, Mejia should be given the chance to earn this role. He earned that much. I mean, what if he continues to dazzle during the spring while Matsuzaka and Lannan struggle? What then? Will Collins’ opinion be swayed on wanting a veteran no matter what?

One would hope he is not that stubborn.

Simply put, putting Mejia in the bullpen is a mistake. The Mets put him there back in 2010 and it was disastrous. Mejia has starter stuff and it would be a waste if they shuttle him to the back end of the bullpen.

While one can appreciate the veteran services of Matsuzaka and Lannan, most Mets’ fans want to truly see what they have in Mejia. Between his years with debilitating injuries, being jettisoned between the rotation and the bullpen and being shuttled back in forth in the minors, it’s time we give Mejia his chance at starter. If not now, then when?

With the likes of Niese, Wheeler, Colon and Gee ahead of him, Mejia will not feel any undue pressure and he can go about his business in a normal-like fashion. This way, even if he does succeed it would only enhance his value and with the Mets having a young, stable of crops of reinforcements (Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, etc.) only a call away, Mejia could be a great bargaining chip.  And with Harvey presumably back next year, the time is ripe to showcase Mejia. 

If Mejia goes to the bullpen, at this point it should be for good. And that inherently is the problem. With Mejia still in prime position to make an impact in the rotation you should give him every chance to lock down the fifth spot. If he goes to the bullpen that may be the end of him as a starter, at least with the Mets.

And that’s too bad.

18 comments on “Jenrry Mejia getting the short end in rotation battle

  • Glenn

    I couldn’t agree more, as does the vast majority of the fan base. Unfortunately, Collins seems wedded to Dice-K. I like Matsuzaka better than the run-of-the-mill bargain bin veterans we have had in recent years like Shaun Marcum, the other Chris Young, Tim Redding, etc. because he does have greater upside, but not the upside that Mejia possesses, both for this year and the greater future for the organization. If he doesn’t get the #5 spot, I’d hope they just put him in Vegas and give him the first shot once there is an injury. He would be a waste as a reliever.

  • tommyb

    Mejia should start – besides being really ready, as you note, if he succeeds as a starter, he (or someone else like the injury-prone Niese) could bring a whole lot in a trade, as the Super 2 Boys (Thor and Rafael) and DeGrom hit the scene very soon. I know the Mets would like to keep Niese for Lefty Righty balance, but Matz may be here by the middle of next year, so the time gap is not that great.

    While the Mets like to coddle top pitching prospects, they may want to accelerate Matz, as I believe he will dominate, and guys who have TJ surgery are more prone to re-injury. Why waste his bullets coddling him in the minors for an extra year?

  • Scott Ferguson

    I want Lannan as a part of the staff, but Mejia should be the five. I could see the Mets trading him for Franklin or Owings.

  • since68

    So far mejia has only pitched 100 innings and cold only pitch 130 this year. That would get him to July. If they start the year with Mejia they will lose DiceK, limiting their options. I prefer Mejia, but starting DiceK ow gives them more options.

  • tommyb

    Trading Mejia for one of those SS’s could definitley happen. Tejada guarantees a losing season as a SS starter.

  • TexasGusCC

    I have often said that The Mets have had to overcome Collins’ moves much more than Collins has aided his team. Two reasons why Mejia should not go into the pen:
    1. He has not shown a resilient arm, and the way Collins has these guys warming up for no reason will hurt Mejia, who has never done well as a reliever to begin with.
    2. Mejia must get a chance to show what he has. DiceK is insurance on ANY team in the majors, and if they think they will trade him for a prospect, they are hurting their prospect to maybe, possibly get a better one?
    As for the 100 innings thing with Mejia, he will pitch his 125 innings and get out of the way for Montero or Syndergaard. This moron at the helm has been a sabatoer of his team’s progress. How in the world did he ever get a job in player development to begin with?

  • tommyb

    Adding perspective to the posts, I would be suprised if Mejia got limited to 125-130 innings. 150 innings is not a lot, and he has been around a long time. That would be my target for him, especially if the elbow stays quiet.

  • Patrick Albanesius

    To be fair to Collins, this might not be his decision. Starting Dice K, allowing to Mejia to get some time in AAA would give them options, as Since68 said. IMO, I see Dice K as the fifth starter until around mid-May, Mejia as the fifth until around mid-July, then either Montero or Thor there the rest of the way. Some form of that could work out well for the organization. Of course, injuries could throw that out of whack.

    • Sean Flattery

      As of right now, I would have to agree with everything you said. Mejia, however, has electric stuff and if it’s on display his next few starts, how could you not want that 6 or 7 innings per start. Should be interesting to monitor

    • Name

      What other franchise is going to pick up Dice-K if he doesn’t agree to go the minors? I’d roll the dice and send him to the minors. If he says no, we still have Lannan as backup.

      • Brian Joura

        I thought his contract had a stipulation that he had to be in the majors by a certain date (May 1st?) or else he could become a free agent. I just checked Cot’s but there was no mention of it. If that is indeed the case, we could send him to the minors at the start of the season without any worry.

        • Name

          If he agrees to go to the minors, the Mets would have to pay him 100k to keep him. Or to bypass the 100k a team can release the player and sign a new contract. He does have the may opt-out in his current contract.

          I just don’t see any other team giving him a major league deal if he doesn’t agree to go to the minors. Very telling of Sandy/TC judgement if talent and roster construction.

  • Metsense

    The fact that Mejia isn’t the obvious choice is damning to Alderson and Collins. The fact that there is no room in the rotation for Montero is a tribute to the depth of the young pitching staff. The fact is that if Montero broke camp on the roster instead of waiting until May,then the Mets would lose a year of control. It makes sense to hold him back. The fact that Syndergaard should also break camp in the rotation and isn’t is the same reason as Montero’s. Holding Syndergaard back until Super 2 is damning evidence that Sandy doesn’t really think the Mets will be competing for a playoff spot (in his words 90 wins) because if they were truly competitive the extra few million Noah gets in arbitration would easily be made up in playoff profit. So all three belong up but I reasonably understand why two will wait. I don’t understand why Mejia should wait. If Sandy wanted Dice K to start, why did he bother signing Colon to $20M when that money could have bought him a shortstop. (Signing Colon is what a competitive team would have done followed up by also obtaining a shortstop. Only half the job got done)

  • Jonny Fred

    I would go for broke, and throw this is the wind…
    The Mets have my heart, but for the most part of their
    existence have only been a fair team, except for about
    7 seasons total. It’s time that they take chances that
    normally they wouldn’t take. Here’s the pitching staff
    as it might work for their better…

    Starting 5 for next year…
    Syndergaard, Harvey, Wheeler, Montero, deGrom.
    Bullpen: Colon (closer. …to save his arm. he is getting up there).
    Mejia, Gee taking turns as long relief pitchers- depending the lineup being faced.
    ALL other remaining pitchers are very valuable, but some can be to trade for
    two pieces that they MUST resolve by the end of this year: First B, and Shortstop!
    They need THAT type of pitching, AND two “Stars” the First , and Shortstop positions if they really want to show the
    competition, and the rest of all baseball that they have always been serious about contending.
    With “Niece”, (and another “tradable” player thrown in) they can easily get a “Superstar” First basemen in a trade…
    The Shortstop can be pulled in via “Free Agency”. (Don’t be too high the Red Sox Shortstop that the Mets were
    eying… He’s not really a Star… He’s only the best available through free TODAY- he’s no where
    near the money he wants.

    …but that’s just my opinion.
    …would love to here yours.
    God bless you all!

  • Jerry Grote

    How different really is this from Stephen Drew and SS? About 99% of baseball accepts that he is a superior player to Tejada. Or that he should be affordable to a NYC team?

    Udall, when asked in “As Good As It Gets” how he knows women so well says,”I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability”.

    If your 2014 squad starts Ruben Tejada as SS, Dillon Gee as the ODS, and Dice K as the fifth pitcher (leaving out Mejia) – Simply put, that is NOT a commitment to winning in 2014.

    • Name

      Food for thought. How many non-catching position players have gotten a multi year deal worth at least 10 million per season, while averaging less than 100 games a season over the past 3 years or less than 400 PA per season?

      I found just 1 guy who fit this description, and 2 more that played under 100 games but had more than 400 PA. Hint: 2 of them were former Mets.

      That one guy who fit the description? Milton Bradley. Signed a 3/30 with the Cubbies after averaging 94 games and 386 PA the 3 years prior.
      The other 2? Our beloved Reyes and Beltran who signed 6/106 and 2/26 respectively. And the only reason that Reyes got so much was because he was 28 and the Marlins had no intention of paying the latter years of that contract.

      So that’s 3 guys over the last 9 years who have played as few games as Drew and managed to score a multiyear deal in the 8 figures. Maybe someone should pass this fact along to Boras. Sandy is right to stick with his 1/9.5 offer.

      • Jerry Grote

        Not very good comps …

        Bradley had never shown even a slightest ability to stay on the field. Reyes – and Beltran – had shown fair brittleness as well.

        Drew averaged nearly 150 games at SS for four years prior to a couple of freak injuries. The only one of the contracts you mention that worked out well was Beltran, and I would say his career more closely resembles Drew’s (in terms of games played) than the other two.

        Health really shouldn’t be a concern. Now, the fact that you’ve got two higher profile FAs signing a one year deal just recently …

  • bigbrett

    id like to see mejia, niese, and parnel get limited action in april. i’ll add to a lesser extent, wheeler, gee, and familia. wheller is on an innings limit and the more he pitches in april the less he pitches in september.

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