Jenrry Mejia stated during spring training that he would rather be a starting pitcher in the minors than a reliever in the majors. If Mejia were offered the eighth or ninth inning job, though, he would be open to shifting to the bullpen.
Apr 26, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mejia was mostly stellar in his first six starts of the season, but has struggled mightily in the fifth inning of his last two starts – leading manager Terry Collins to say that Mejia shifting to the bullpen is something that’s always in the conversation.
While the Mets should have a long leash on Mejia as a starter since he has top of the rotation upside, heading to the bullpen as the closer – if he falters – wouldn’t be crazy if Mejia is up for it. According to Jared Diamond in the Wall Street Journal, he would be:
"‘It’s hard for me,’ Mejia said. ‘I had two operations on my arm. I’ve got to be ready, prepared.’ Closing would provide Mejia with the security he desires, allowing him to establish a routine for a specific job. It would alleviate Mejia’s health concerns. As a result, he said that, ‘if they told me eighth-inning guy or ninth-inning guy, that’s going to be good to me. If the game is tight, I know when to prepare to be in this inning,” he said. “If we’re winning, 3-2, 4-2, I’ve got to be ready for closer.’"
Again, if Mejia falters as a starter and if the club is willing to put him in the closer role and stick with it, this wouldn’t be a bad idea.
However, blindly shifting him to the bullpen without a defined role would be a recipe for disaster.