New York Mets News

Jenrry Mejia Front & Center in Fifth Starter “Competition”

By Danny Abriano

With today being the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers, that means that the fifth starter “competition” is underway.

Aug 6, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher

Jenrry Mejia

(58) pitches during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

While pitchers such as Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero are on the periphery of the rotation battle, the pitcher who rounds out the starting five will very likely be either Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka, or John Lannan.

Yesterday, during his first press conference of spring training, Mets manager Terry Collins had the following to say about the fight for the fifth rotation spot:

"I have no problem (going with a young guy)…we’re gonna take the best guy who’s pitching the best. I always hate to number guys – who can make us the most successful? We’ve got some very good candidates, starting with Jenrry Mejia who looks 100 percent."

There’s a small problem with Collins’ quote, the part where he says “we’re gonna take the best guy who’s pitching the best.” Spring statistics are largely meaningless.  If Jenrry Mejia is healthy (it appears that he is) and his pitches have the same bite they had last year, he should be the guy.

As has been noted here and elsewhere over the last few days, the roster decisions will ultimately be made by general manager Sandy Alderson.  So, the above quote from Collins could be him toeing the company line, his actual feelings, or a mixture of both.

During yesterday’s press conference, Collins briefly mentioned Matsuzaka after focusing on Mejia, and failed to mention Lannan.

To repeat what I’ve been saying lately: the whole notion of a “competition” during spring training is usually absurd.  I suppose it makes a shred of sense to take into account what unproven players do in February and March.  However, for pitchers like Mejia, the only thing that should matter is health and work ethic.

It makes no sense for the Mets to move Mejia to the bullpen at this point in time, and no sense to send him to Triple-A Las Vegas.  He has nothing left to prove there.

If the Mets are indeed going with the best man for the job – the one who will give the Mets the best chance to win every fifth day – it would be criminal if the club didn’t opt for a healthy Mejia over both Matsuzaka and Lannan.

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