RHP Jenrry Mejia and LHP Jonathan Niese both delivered solid performances today during the Mets 4-3 extra-innings loss to the Marlins. Despite the losing effort, the Mets dugout was all smiles particularly Jerry Manuel who was delighted in what he saw from his two young starting pitchers this afternoon.
Niese started and threw 2.2 innings allowing one earned run and striking out five. He relied heavily on a new cut fastball which he picked up from B-Mets pitching coach Ricky Bones last season. Niese looked more confident than he was last season and his command was much improved. Afterward, he spoke to SNY.
“It’s a new pitch for me and I’m just trying to get consistent with it so I was throwing it a lot. I’m just as confident throwing it as I am with my change-up and curve.”
Meanwhile the 20-year old Jenrry Mejia drew rave reviews in his first appearance of the spring. He had an absolutely electrifying debut, striking out four batters in a perfect 2.1 innings of work while showing off his blistering 96 mph heater.
The cutting action on his fastball was so good that batters were swinging and missing the ball by a foot or more. Although he has been labeled as being somewhat wild, he showed great command of the strike zone this afternoon.
It was remarkable to see opposing batters literally talking to themselves and swinging wildly at his offerings. Newsday’s John Lennon tweeted that Manuel compared Mejia’s fastball to the great Rivera and exclaimed, “Got to get him on the team!”
“Wooo, wooo, man oh man,” Manuel said. “I told y’all. The eighth inning would look pretty good for Mejia, wouldn’t it?”
Manuel is dead serious you know… He’s said as much twice already this spring and that was before Mejia stepped on the mound and lit up the radar gun today. Mets pitching coach, Dan Warthen, was no less optimistic.
“You see what you see today, he’s a major-league pitcher today. If we start seeing this happen four or five, six times, now we start thinking a little bit stronger about, maybe he is ready to play up here.”
And you thought only Mets fans were limited to such ramblings after one solitary spring game…
By the way, not to be outdone, RHP Nelson Figueroa sparkled in the Mets 7-2 win over the Cardinals today. Figgy pitched four shutout innings allowing just one hit and striking out five batters in picking up the win.
Seriously though, there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic after that we’ve been through as Mets fans, even if it’s irrational exuberance. The bottom could fall out the next time these guys take the mound so enjoy it and relish it while you can, even if it’s just a spring training performance. We earned that right.