Overall, the 2012 season has been a successful one for 22-year-old pitcher Jenrry Mejia. He rehabbed from Tommy John surgery and showed he was completely healthy down in Triple-A. Once September rolled around, he saw Big League action for the first time in a couple years, and earned his first career MLB win against the Pirates. He had his ups and downs, with both performance and jobs he was given, making his role in the organization an interesting topic of conversation moving forward.
How He Did on the Mound
Mejia began his rehab assignment as a starting pitcher, and his road to recovery first went through Florida with the St. Lucie Mets, the organization’s Single-A affiliate. In 2 starts, the righty went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings pitched, holding opponents to a .184 batting average. His next stop was with the Binghamton Mets in Double-A, but he struggled in his 2 starts there, going 0-0 with a 5.63 ERA in only 8 innings pitched, while batters hit a healthy .344 against him.
The final stage of his rehabilitation was with the Buffalo Bisons in Triple-A, where he excelled as a starter. In 10 starts and 52.1 innings pitched, Mejia went 2-3 with a 2.75 ERA, induced 1.88 ground balls for every fly ball, and opponents hit .245 against him. Once he was officially done with rehab, the Mets put Mejia on a throwing plan that would get him ready to be a reliever; New York projects the young hurler as a reliever in the long term (which we’ll get to in a bit), and at the time, that was the team’s greatest need at the MLB level. Well, it didn’t go so well, as he appeared out of the ‘pen 16 times, compiled a 1-1 record with a 5.48 ERA and allowed 9 walks in 21.1 innings pitched, while opposing batters hit .303.
He stayed in Buffalo until rosters expanded in September, and once again split time in the bullpen and out of the starting rotation. He had limited time in both roles (5 appearances, 3 starts), but had more success as a reliever, putting together a 3.00 ERA in 3 IP without walking a batter, while he was 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA, walking 9 hitters in 13 IP as a starter. He still has an incredibly high ceiling talent-wise, but it will be important for the organization to figure out how they want to use him, and stick with that plan.
Areas to Improve Upon
Obviously, the one thing that Mejia needs to improve upon before 2013 is throwing strike one and getting ahead in the count. He’ll need to cut down on his 1.81 WHIP with the Mets this past season, as well as his 5.06 BB/9IP ratio to give himself more of a chance to succeed. When he does get ahead, he’s successful; opponents are hitting only .160 against him and he compiled a 0.55 WHIP in that situation in the Bigs last month, but when he falls behind, opponent batting averages sky rocketed to .381, while his WHIP ballooned to 3.64. Since fans have known about Jenrry Mejia since 2010, we tend to forget how young he is. Once he learns to focus and get ahead of hitters, he will be much more effective, whether it’s out of the bullpen or in the starting rotation.
Projected Role in 2013
Dan Warthen and Terry Collins continue to say that Mejia will be a reliever with the Mets in the long-term, so that’s what I’m anticipating his role to be next season. With one of the worst bullpens in the league in 2012, another overhaul is likely, but with young hurlers like Mejia and Jeurys Familia, there may be more internal solutions than originally thought. Unless he takes a huge step back in the Spring, Jenrry being a part of the Big League bullpen once camp breaks next Spring.
Contract Status and Trade Rumors
Mejia is under team control, and is pre-arbitration eligible. There have been no trade rumors regarding him this season, but I’m convinced he will be shopped this winter. If the organization is projecting him as a reliever in the long-term, there was no legitimate rhyme or reason as to why he was handed three starts in September. Starting pitching is one of the few strengths for this team heading into 2013, and with his success as a starter on the Triple-A level, he could be shopped as an MLB-ready starting pitcher that could be a part of a package for a power-hitting outfielder. We’ll see how the winter plays out for Jenrry.