Today, as our player by player season in review pieces continue, the focus turns to right handed starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia.
After getting healthy, the 24 year old Mejia worked his way through the minors in a series of rehab stints before opening eyes with the Mets near the end of the season. In early September, Mejia’s season came to a close after the bone chips in his elbow caused too much pain for him to continue.
How he fared on the mound:
After making it back to the Mets, Mejia took full advantage of his opportunity. In 27.1 innings over 5 games started, Mejia had an ERA of 2.30 and a 1.17 WHIP. He allowed 28 hits, struck out 27, and walked just 4. Just as important as his numbers, was the fact that the natural cutting action on Mejia’s fastball had returned.
In addition to the life returning to his fastball, Mejia flashed secondary stuff that was at times of the wipeout variety. He also appeared to have an entirely different mound presence than he ever had before – one that exuded confidence.
In September, the bone chips in his elbow ended Mejia’s season prematurely. It was known before he was called up that minor surgery to clean out the bone chips would be necessary after the season, so it wasn’t alarming when he was shut down.
Mejia was yanked back and forth from the bullpen to the starting rotation from 2010 to 2011, underwent Tommy John surgery, and came back this year with something to prove. In his short stint with the Mets in 2013, he did just that.
Areas To Improve Upon:
Mejia struck out close to 9 batters per 9 innings this season with the Mets (24.1 percent of the batters he faced). He was poised, flashed dominant stuff, and kept his walks down. He only gave up 2 home runs, and stranded close to 80 percent of the runners who reached base against him.
What Mejia needs to “improve” is his health. As is noted above, the surgery he had on his elbow in September was both expected and minor. There’s an outside chance he pitches in Winter ball. Either way, he should be ready to go when Spring Training rolls around in February.
Projected Role in 2014:
When discussing the 2014 rotation, both Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have been leaving Mejia out of the discussion. I’m not sure if that’s by design or an unintentional omission.
There are those who will say that Mejia belongs in the bullpen (because of his smallish stature), and I disagree vehemently. Until Mejia proves he can’t succeed as a starting pitcher, he should be given every opportunity to start. Three years ago, Mejia was the top prospect in the organization. This year, he reminded everyone why. It seems like he’s been with the Mets forever, but it’s important to point out that Mejia is younger than Matt Harvey.
In 2013, he appeared to finally be harnessing his immense potential. He should come into camp as one of the pitchers competing for a spot in the starting rotation. If Mejia is healthy and the stuff is there, the spot should be his to lose.
Contract Status and Trade Rumors:
Mejia is under team control, and will make roughly $500K next season.
With Matt Harvey’s status unknown, the Mets will be extremely careful when it comes to potentially dealing away any of their young, high impact pitchers. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mejia gets dealt, but the fact that he ended the season on the disabled list (and only showed flashes late in the season) likely means that his value isn’t terribly high to other teams at the moment.