Jenrry Mejia is finally getting his chance to develop as a starter for the Triple-A Bisons. After putting up a 5.48 ERA as a relief pitcher in 21.1 innings for Buffalo, Mejia was finally moved back to the starting rotation, where in three short starts, he has flourished.
Of course, it’s a very small sample size, but the difference between Mejia as a starter and reliever this season has been staggering.
On Sunday, Mejia got the start against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He is still being stretched out, and therefore his pitch count is very limited, but he got the job done for Buffalo once again. He threw five innings and allowed just two runs (both unearned) on six hits while only walking one. Now, he only struck out two batters, but the outing was still a positive sign that Mejia is adjusting well to being moved back to the rotation. In his previous two starts (both short) he allowed a total of just one run and seven hits over 7.1 innings.
Hopefully, Mejia will be allowed to remain a starter for another full season in the minors before being called up to the big league club. He missed out on so much valuable development time during the failed bullpen experiment in the first half of 2010, when he was called up at just 20 years old and asked to carry a bullpen, as well as last season, which he missed most of due to Tommy John surgery.
I’ve always thought that a pitcher develops best when starting. Then, he can’t just try to get outs with pure stuff. He has to think because he will be facing the same batters two, or often three times. He has to be smart and use his off-speed pitches. This is especially true for Mejia, whose off-speed stuff leaves much to be desired. He has been messed up by the impulsive decisions made by the front office in the past.
Paul DePodesta and the player development crew in the organization have to sit down and make a decision to not let the state of the big league club affect the development and future of the bright young prospect that Mejia is. He can’t afford to be ruined again.