The closer’s job should be Jenrry Mejia’s to lose
When Bobby Parnell entered a 5-4 game in the ninth inning of Opening Day 2014, he was looking to put his neck issues that had sidelined him the prior season behind him. To his and every Met fan’s dismay, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t his neck that was a concern…it was his elbow.
After Parnell blew the save, it was not long after that the Mets announced that Parnell would undergo Tommy John surgery on his elbow, ending his 2014 season.
As a result of Parnell’s injury, for the first several weeks of the season, the closer’s position became something of a revolving door for the Mets. Jose Valverde, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Torres and Kyle Farnsworth all picked up at least one save during the first month and a half of the season.
When Farnsworth was removed from the roster on May 14th, Jenrry Mejia became the latest Met to step into the closer’s role. Mejia picked up his first save of the season on May 17th versus the Nationals and never relinquished his role as closer. Mejia went on to collect 28 saves in 31 tries and most importantly, he solidified the back-end of the bullpen which was getting breakout seasons from Jeurys Familia and Vic Black.
Mejia limped to the finish line, however, battling a balky back, sore calf and a hernia. Despite those ailments, Mejia was able to convert all seven of his save opportunities in the month of September. Not only did Mejia prove that he is capable of being an effective closer, but he also provided a theatrical spark at the end of games with his trademark “Mejia Stomp” celebration.
Despite Mejia’s success, Terry Collins said last week at the Winter Meetings that the closer’s job is Parnell’s to lose despite the very likelihood that Parnell will begin 2015 on the disabled list.
Regardless of Parnell’s health, the closer’s job should be Mejia’s to lose. Mejia has spent his entire career battling to find a spot on the roster and being flipped between the rotation and the bullpen. Now that he has finally found a role that he is comfortable with and excels at, it does not make sense to take him out of that role.
Mejia himself has stated that he loves the adrenaline in the ninth inning and that he feeds off of it. Removing him from the ninth inning might lessen that adrenaline. Even if Parnell is ready for Opening Day, Mejia should still be given the job of closer. He has more than proven that he is capable.