Manager Terry Collins had some advice for starter turned reliever Jenrry Mejia, who he believes could be one of the best closers in the majors.
“I know he wants to start,” Collins said. “But I know he wants to be successful besides being a starter. His issue [pitching out of the bullpen] is can he handle it physically? That’s what we have to get over. That’s what we have to find out. If he can, he’ll be as good as we have in this game, because he’s got that kind of stuff.”
Mejia earned his first major league save on Saturday and while it was hoped he could pitch the following game, he didn’t appear in the 6-3 loss on Sunday.
After Saturday’s game, he expressed concern about pitching on consecutive days.
“I don’t know yet. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow, because I just have three days in the bullpen, and I have like three years that I didn’t pitch like that. Three years ago I was injured, hurt a lot. I don’t know right now.”
I actually agree with Collins on this. Mejia does have to get over his fear of getting hurt which he connects with pitching out of the bullpen. Once he does that, he’ll be even better and could become an excellent closer for us.
Jenrry Mejia took another step toward becoming the team’s closer after picking up the first save of his major league career on Saturday when the Mets defeated the Nationals 5-2.
“We’ve got to find out,” Collins said after the game. “We’ve got to see how this kid is going to handle it, so I put him in there.”
Mejia pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and striking out two.
The next hurdle for Mejia would be to pitch in back-to-back appearances for the first time since moving to the bullpen last week.
That could happen on Sunday according to Collins, but Mejia expressed some concern and said he will wait to see how he feels before declaring himself available this afternoon.
“I don’t know yet,” Mejia told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. “Let’s see how I feel tomorrow, because I just have three days in the bullpen, and I have like three years that I didn’t pitch like that. Three years ago I was injured, hurt a lot. I don’t know right now.
About the only thing keeping Mejia from officially becoming the closer will be this consecutive appearance issue – which is not really an issue at all. I can certainly appreciate Mejia’s apprehension given what he’s gone through in his short professional career.
However, as far back as the Winter I have envisioned Mejia as our eventual closer or at the very least a valuable setup man.
His split stats always seemed to indicate that he was better suited for a role in the bullpen rather than the rotation as evidenced by his .417 batting average allowed the third time a hitter sees him in a game. That and the fact he has averaged less than five innings per start throughout his major and minor league career combined.
Hopefully we can debate this some more during the game and that the Mets can head into the ninth inning with a lead against the Nationals to protect. Save situation or not, we need to guide Mejia past his jitters on this.