On August 11th it was reported that closer Jenrry Mejia had been laboring through a sports hernia that would require surgery in the off-season. At that moment questions started to swirl about why the 24-year old closer would pitch through the injury. After all, the Mets playoff hopes have stalled and while they seem destined to compete in 2015, their 2014 campaign is quietly coming to an end. Mejia’s recent struggles don’t support his decision to pitch through the pain.
Over the past 11 days (6 games), Mejia has surrendered 6 runs. That includes the game winner to Starlin Castro on Sunday and a two run bomb to Cubs rookie Javier Baez on Monday. Closers go through droughts. It’s not all that uncommon to see Mejia struggling, especially given how good he’s been all season. But with the news of his injury right in the middle of this bad streak, you have to wonder if it is effecting him more than he’s saying.
There is something of an aberration in the last two appearances for Mejia. Many closers also struggle in games that are not save situations. There’s no science to it, but it seems more often than not that closers have some of their worst outings when the pressure is off. That can be said for Mejia. Both Castro and Baez’s home-runs came in non-save situations. Sunday it was a tie game and Monday the Mets were already down. So was it the injury or the situation that caused the lapse? Who knows.
After Sunday’s loss, Mejia had this to say about Castro’s at bat: “I threw outside, it went outside a little bit late — a two-seamer — and he made the swing and he got me…I think he was waiting for a fastball because I threw a fastball away and he swung” (Roger Rubin, Daily News).
Despite his last few appearances, Mejia is still 18 for 21 in save opportunities with a 4.04 ERA. That ERA has ticked up since the start of August from 3.58. With the hernia surgery looming, the Mets should just call it a season for Mejia and make sure he’s ready for spring training. There’s no point in pitching through any pain given the outlook for the rest of this season. Mejia will have stiff competition heading into spring training in 2015 and he’ll need as much recovery time as possible to compete with Jeurys Familia, Vic Black and the returning Bobby Parnell.