Jenrry Mejia, the right choice for the final spot in the starting rotation, excelled during his first start of the season on Friday. That Mejia pitched as well as he did while dealing with rain and temperatures that left him at times unable to feel his fingers made his performance all the more impressive.
Mar 5, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) throws against the Washington Nationals in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
While braving a steady rain and temperatures that dipped below 40 degrees, Mejia continued what he started at the end of the 2013 season. He pitched with a purpose, had a great presence on the mound, featured his cutting fastball, and utilized secondary offerings that often left the Reds frozen or flailing.
In six innings pitched, Mejia allowed one run on four hits, walked five and struck out eight.
The five walks were too much, but were likely due to Mejia not having a great feel for his pitches on a cold, rainy night.
Every other aspect of Mejia’s game, though, was on point.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted after the third inning that Mejia – with his pitch count rising – would be no more than a five inning pitcher Friday night. As it turned out, Mejia went six innings, working out of a jam in the top of the sixth that was caused by a Daniel Murphy error.
Mejia, who is almost seven months younger than Matt Harvey, showed during his first start what he showed during his five start stint last season – that he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter.
With an innings limit in 2014 that may not stretch much further than 120 innings or so, Mejia’s time in the rotation will likely be limited.
However, with starts like the one he turned in on Friday night, Mejia can use that time to cement himself in the rotation plans going forward.