Should Mets Shut Down Jenrry Mejia?
Is it time to shut down Jenrry Mejia? Or maybe the question is, why haven’t the Mets yet shut down Jenrry Mejia?
Do you remember when Mejia was a young and promising fireballer, but went down with a shoulder injury before he was old enough to drink?
Do you remember when he came back from that injury, only to go down with a UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery?
Do you remember when, after coming back from TJ surgery, Mejia went down again with an elbow issue, and had his season shut down to have surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow?
That most recent issue was only a year ago. If you recall, Mejia threw all of 51 innings in 2013 — all as a starter.
This year, Mejia began the season in the starting rotation, then was moved to the bullpen. He’s done fairly well in his new role, all things considered. I think it’s fair to say that he shows potential as a closer, and, certainly, his future would seem to be pitching in the later innings of ballgames, rather than the earlier ones.
Today, Mejia has a sports hernia, a back problem, a mysterious thigh issue (perhaps related to the hernia?), and a chronic calf issue. He’s also still pitching with the same dangerous mechanics that put him on the surgeon’s table three times in three years. The Mets are 8 games below .500, 8 behind in the wild card standings, and fading fast.
So what’s the point in continuing to send Mejia to the mound? He’s already appeared in 47 games in 2014; to put that in perspective, consider that he appeared in 51 professional games from 2011-2013 combined. MLB coaches, managers, and executives like to blab about “innings limits,” but we know from history that counting innings means nothing. What matters (after mechanics) is rest and recovery. This is the first year that Mejia has pitched as a reliever, and the Mets broke the recovery rules a few times with him — most alarmingly, when he came out of the bullpen to face the Yankees only three days after a 101-pitch effort. Although Mejia hasn’t racked up innings in his relief role, that doesn’t mean his arm hasn’t taken a beating. Granted, it’s far less of the beating it would’ve taken had he remained in the starting rotation (my bet is he’d have been on the DL with another arm injury by now if he had), but pitching a few times a week is a stressful load, particularly for someone who has had so many arm injuries so recently. Point being, Mejia has pushed himself far enough for this year, both he and the Mets are somewhat lucky that he’s still able to climb onto the hill and hurl the ball 95 MPH — why push it any further? Toward what end?
There’s no need to question Mejia’s toughness or competitiveness — he’s proven to be both tough and competitive. He’s fearless. We’ve seen his stuff — it’s wipe-out, nasty stuff when he’s on. We know he also has occasional lapses in focus and/or command — most high-energy closers do. We know he sometimes can lose his cool. Maybe he’ll mature some more and work out those negative issues, but chances are, he’ll be this way for life (see: Jose Valverde, K-Rod, etc.), because that’s part of who he is. Even if he can work out those issues, the maturation process is going to take more than another five weeks at the end of a meaningless season.
So, again — why is Jenrry Mejia still being given the ball, while suffering from all of these various ailments? Are the Mets TRYING to send him back to the operating table? Do they want to see just how far his body can be pushed before it breaks down YET AGAIN?
I don’t get it. Mejia would seem to be one of the pieces of the Mets’ future — a high-octane collection of late-inning relievers that would presumably include he, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Bobby Parnell. So why push the envelope? Why tempt fate? Is it because he’ll have more value as an offseason trading chip if he finishes out the year? I can’t figure it out. He already has a history of arm issues and bad mechanics. Pitching with lower body issues can only put even more undue stress on the arm. Is that a ticking noise?
What’s your thought? Do you have any idea why Jenrry Mejia has not yet been shut down? Post your theory in the comments.