For the past two weeks, the New York Mets’ season has sunk further as they have been defeated in 6 out of their last 8 games since they lost game 3 of the Subway Series to the neighboring New York Yankees, though last night’s win against the Los Angeles Dodgers helped cushion the blow. As it stands, the Mets are ranked fourth in the NL East and are 5 games behind the top-ranked Atlanta Braves.
Although the Mets defeated the Dodgers, these losses have been jarring because Jenrry Mejia has experienced few save opportunities since he was moved to the bullpen. Earlier in the season, Mejia was in the starting rotation and finished April with a record of 3 – 0, but after a few close calls, the team concluded that Mejia’s niche lied within the bullpen, particularly as a closer.
Finding a closer
This season, we’ve seen more blown saves than expected. Jose Valverde showed that he isn’t suitable as a closer, and all Kyle Farnsworth proved was that he’s so worthless the Mets threw him off the team.
Considering Mejia’s ability to pitch well for the first few innings as a starter, he seems like the idyllic candidate as a closer. The only thing is he has been given only three save opportunities so far because of the Mets’ lack of winning games, so whether or not he’s suitable as the Mets’ closer is still speculation.
Evaluating Mejia in the bullpen
While Mejia’s ERA doesn’t hold up well at 4.43, he is one of the leading pitchers in strikeouts. Mejia has struck out 44 players this year, which is the second-most strikeouts among Mets pitchers. The problem with Mejia is his inherent ability to choke. He has given the second-most amount of walks with 20, which is slightly behind Zack Wheeler’s 26. Not only that, but Mejia’s also one of the primary culprits for giving up runs with the current count being at 21 this season, which is the third-most behind Wheeler and Bartolo Colon.
Once the Mets rack up more save opportunities, then we will have a better idea about how Mejia performs as a closer. Until then, what other options do the Mets have if Mejia doesn’t work out? Dillon Gee is expected to return from the DL soon, so chances are he will take his spot in the starting rotation back from Jacob deGrom, who was brought up from Triple-A to fill in for Gee, though the Mets could make room for deGrom.
If the Mets want to continue using deGrom as a starter, perhaps they could move Colon or Wheeler into the bullpen. Colon and Wheeler are having the same problems that Mejia had, so they might also work well in the bullpen. If deGrom underperforms, they could move him into the bullpen, which would integrate him into the majors more smoothly. These options are dependent on how deGrom, Colon, and Wheeler perform for the rest of May. Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard is expected to be brought up from Triple-A soon, so that will offer more flexibility on the mound.
The pitching dynamic is rapidly changing for the Mets, especially for Mejia as he continues adjusting to his new role as a reliever. I think Mejia will excel as the closer considering how he can pitch shutouts for the first few innings as a starter. It also helps that he’s optimistic about being a reliever. Once the Mets’ bats fire up, then there will be a better idea about where Mejia stands on the Mets.