The Mets Need a Starter for Friday

By Danny Abriano

With the team scheduled to play a doubleheader in Washington on Friday and no off days between now and then, the Mets will have to call up a pitcher from the minors to make a spot start.  Whoever they decide on will likely pitch one of the games on Friday, but may pitch Thursday if the Mets opt to give Zack Wheeler an extra day of rest.

Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia (32) pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Mets beat the Tigers 11-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A few days ago, Adam Rubin surmised that there was a strong chance that Chris Schwinden would be called upon to make the start.  Schwinden, who had a 12.46 ERA for the Mets last year over 2 starts, has been poor this year for AAA Las Vegas.  He entered yesterday’s start with a 5.70 ERA, and proceeded to give up 6 runs over 4 innings pitched.  That performance led Rubin to state that Schwinden may have eliminated himself from consideration for the spot start.

Regardless of how Schwinden pitched yesterday, he never should’ve been an option.  Nothing against him personally, but having Schwinden make a start at the big league level is akin to a forfeit.  That’s not a message you want to send to the rest of the players on the roster, who have been playing tremendous baseball lately.

According to Rubin, if Schwinden is indeed no longer being considered, the other pitchers who are candidates to make the start are Jenrry Mejia (who has been starting in AA Binghamton), Jacob deGrom, and Rafael Montero (who are both starting for AAA Las Vegas).

deGrom, 25, has been solid since being promoted to AAA earlier in the season.  He was called up to fill a need (not based on his performance in AA, where he had a 4.80 ERA).  Nevertheless, deGrom is 3-1 with an ERA of 3.00 for the 51’s.  In 36 innings pitched, he’s given up 36 hits, walked 9 and struck out 27.

Montero, 22, has hit a speed bump since being promoted to AAA.  He has a 4.50 ERA to go along with 47 hits and 13 walks in 38 innings pitched.  Montero, who’s known for having impeccable control, has walked 3.08 per 9 since arriving in Vegas (up from 1.35 in AA).  His BABIP is an absurd .375.  With the rough conditions pitchers face in Las Vegas (hard infields, difficulty gripping the ball, and pop outs that turn into extra base hits), it’s fair to assume that a large chunk of Montero’s difficulties can be attributed to the conditions he’s pitching in.  Still, Montero doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the season, and now doesn’t seem like the ideal time for him to make his big league debut.

That leaves us with Jenrry Mejia.  The 23 year old made his debut with the Mets in 2010, and has been yanked back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation since then while battling injuries in the process.  After making rehab starts for the GCL Mets and with High-A St. Lucie, Mejia has made a couple of very good starts for AA Binghamton.  He has an 0.82 ERA in 11 innings pitched.  In those 11 innings, Mejia has allowed 6 hits, walked 4, and struck out 9.

The Mets currently have 39 out of 40 spots taken on their 40-man roster (players such as Mejia, who are on the 60-day DL, do not count against the 40-man).  The Mets could add deGrom or Montero without bumping someone from the 40-man roster, but the most logical choice here is Mejia.  He’s performing the best, has major league experience, and would simply go from being on the 60-day DL to back on the active roster if he were promoted for the spot start.  We’ll find out later in the week how the Mets choose to play this.

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