If you follow the Mets beat writers on Twitter like I do, you would know that a majority of the conversation tonight was not about how the Mets got knocked around like chumps against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.
No, tonight's trending topic amongst the Mets media was on how 20-year-old Jenrry Mejia was blowing people away in his start in Buffalo tonight. Mejia, who was in the Mets bullpen for the first few months of the 2010 season, went eight innings of 1-run ball, striking out nine.
The Mets, most likely mistakenly, used Mejia in a bullpen role early on in the season. It was hard to blame Mets manager Jerry Manuel at the time, because Mejia was one of the only pitchers actually throwing well in Spring Training. From the way John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, and even Johan Santana were throwing in camp, it looked like the Mets would need to go to the bullpen early and often once the season officially began, and they viewed Mejia as a flamethrower who could log them innings.
But as time wore on, it was visible to everyone in and around the Mets organization that sitting in the bullpen and only pitching a couple of innings a week was not in Mejia's or the Mets best long term interest. The Mets sent him down to Double-A Binghamton to begin to stretch himself out and start games.
Mejia went 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in six starts in Binghamton, and was promoted for his first start at Triple-A Buffalo, which was tonight.
Pat Misch failed to impress again tonight, giving up five runs in just three innings of work. Misch's next start would be Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs.
How convenient that Saturday would also be Jenrry Mejia's next day to pitch on regular rest.
After the game, Manuel told reporters, "That would be something that I would like to see," when asked about the possibility of Mejia joining the big league club in time for Saturday's game.
Let's look at the positives for Mejia coming up and starting Saturday. For one, it would give a shot in the arm to a team that has looked like it is more than apathetic towards baseball since the end of June.
If Mejia were to come up and start Saturday, he would most likely get five more starts after that day, if he were to remain with the big league club for the rest of the season. It would give the Mets a decent sample to analyze if Mejia is good to slot into the rotation for 2011. If you're comfortable slotting Santana, Niese, Pelfrey, and R.A. Dickey into the rotation for next year right now, and you could also be sure Mejia is going to round out that five-man rotation, it would give the Mets front office one less thing to worry about in the offseason, and focus on tuning up the bullpen, bench, and lineup.
There might also be a downfall to Mejia coming up right now. Honestly, this is a lot of hoopla over one start. A start in the minor leagues, I might add. Based on that one start in Triple-A, can we really be all that sure he's done with the over-throwing, fall-off-the-mound style we saw early this season? Sure his ERA is impressive, but the kid skims 100 miles-per-hour with his fastball. That'll send a lot of minor-league players to the showers with nothing to show for it.
It might not hurt to let Mejia pitch the remainder of the season with Triple-A Buffalo, just to reinforce what he's learned. This season is going nowhere fast over these last 31 games, so what's the point in possibly rushing a kid who could help you win later?
Like you can see, it's a coin toss. There's a good argument for both promoting him or keeping him where he is. It just comes down to what's best for the team in 2011. And if you're asking me right now, I think Mejia putting an audition in for a slot in the 2011 rotation over these last five weeks of the season is the best thing for 2011. If he performs, you can rest easier at night from October until April, knowing the starting rotation is set. If not, you know the Mets will go out looking for a starter... hopefully.
But if you don't bring Mejia up, you won't know anything.