The Mets are moving Jenrry Mejia back to the starting rotation and it’s about time. Mejia, 22, has bounced between the bullpen and the starting rotation throughout his career including a stint in the big league bullpen as a relief pitcher.
The original thought on Mejia was he was coming off Tommy John surgery, so his innings would be limited this season. The Mets front office decided to take advantage of that and move Mejia to the bullpen, where he eventually might be anyway. However, the role switch really hurt Mejia’s performance. As a relief pitcher, he has a 5.48 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched compared to a 1.13 ER in three starts with the Bisons.
The Mets want to (and need to) give Mejia the quality innings so he can develop and eventually become the major league pitcher that he has the talent to be. However, it’s been made clear that the bullpen is not the place for him to do that. I’ve always thought that a pitcher gets quality innings when starting. Then, pitchers are utilizing their off-speed pitches in order to get hitters out as opposed to just trying to blow away hitters with fastballs, as Mejia is reportedly doing and what many starters transitioning to the bullpen often try to do.
Velocity isn’t going to get Mejia by at the major leagues. It may scare a Double-A, or even some Triple-A hitters, but hitters like Giancarlo Stanton and Chase Utley are going to smack a fastball down the middle, whether it’s at 100 miles per hour or not. It’s the changeups and breaking balls that make or break pitchers and that’s what Mejia really needs to work on.
As I’ve said all along, Mejia, for development purposes, belongs in the starting rotation. Who knows? He may still be a relief pitcher in the future, but he needs those quality innings as a starter in the minors before he can become the dominant, late-inning force the Mets so desperately need him to be in the future.
Mejia is scheduled to return to the rotation for Buffalo on Monday, when he will start in Indianapolis.