Mets Game 136: Loss to Cubs

Cubs 5 Mets 3

It was a beautiful, sunny day in Chicago, but not so beautiful a debut for Jenrry Mejia.

Game Notes

The much-anticipated first MLB start by Jenrry Mejia was something of a letdown. Mejia allowed 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings, striking out 2 and expending 96 pitches. Perhaps more concerning than the stats was the fact his fastball generally hung around the 92-93 range — a far cry from the upper 90s that he displayed in the spring. He also was regularly shaking / shrugging his shoulder in between pitches — not sure if that is simply a habit or if something is bothering him. You may know he was shut down in late June for a few weeks with a rotator cuff strain, so perhaps this habit and the drop in velocity are related to that issue.

Mejia’s other pitches weren’t particularly noteworthy, either. On occasion, he threw a nasty curve with good 12-6 rotation — so there is some potential — but he didn’t have much command of it and he hung it several times. His change-up was more or less a throwaway pitch, as he rarely put it in the strike zone.

You may think that my analysis is “too critical” since Jenrry is only 20 years old. Well, that’s your right, but I’m looking at him as a Major League Pitcher — not as a random 20-year-old. If I saw him pitch this way in A or AA, I’d say, “hey, this kid has some potential — in a couple years the Mets may have something”. But he is NOT in the minors currently — he is in “The Show”, and by all accounts the Mets are penciling him in for a rotation spot (or at least, to compete for one) next spring. So his age is not nearly as important as his stage of development — and if he is in a Major League game, he has to be evaluated as a Major Leaguer. What I’m seeing is raw talent, but talent that needs to be further developed before pitching every five days against MLB hitters.

Something noticeable to me — and glad Bobby Ojeda pointed out in the postgame — was that when Mejia threw a pitch that went past Nickeas with a man on third, Mejia did not cover the plate. Another glaring indication of a pitcher who needs more minor league seasoning.

Mike Nickeas made his MLB debut catching for Mejia, which some people may have found mysterious since Nickeas is not a prospect. However, Mejia has pitched well in the minors with Nickeas as his backstop for the Binghamton Mets and Nickeas followed Mejia up to AAA Buffalo and caught his gem there. So it made sense to keep the tandem together for Mejia’s first MLB start — there certainly is a comfort level between the two. You might compare Nickeas to Crash Davis, without the homerun power.

Carlos Zambrano limited the Mets to 4 hits in 7 innings. What happened to the guy that had no control of emotions nor his fastball, was getting into fights with nice guys like Derrek Lee, and was looking like the Cubs’ version of Oliver Perez?

Speaking of Perez, why not just start using him in games like this? The Mets have no chance at a playoff spot at this point, and you’re paying the guy, so may as well use him.

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-4 and Ike Davis had two hits, including a wind-blown homer.

Ruben Tejada is red-hot — he collected another single, and has now hit in 4 of his last 6 games. He’s 5 for his last 15, rocketing his batting average to .181. If he can keep this up a little longer, he will threaten to reach the Mendoza Line. Additionally, Tejada’s fielding resembles that of Mario Mendoza, one of the legendary “good-hit, no-field” shortstops. He made one excellent play in the hole that demonstrated his superior arm strength. If only he could play both the shortstop and second base positions simultaneously, the Mets would really have something.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs on Sunday at 2:20 PM EST. Jonathon Niese faces Ryan Dempster.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. micalpalyn September 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm
    1. Z looked like he was auditioning for Omar et al.

    2. Aaron Hill could be had?

    As for Jenry: The Blogs WERE buzzing today…but I agre with you. can he really be THAT much better than he was in May? i for one liked him IN the pen. Is there a correlation btw the July decline and the Mets bowing to media pressue to send him down? I point to the June hot streak were he was a product element in the pen then JM overuses him, tries to make him 8th inning man then does not use him at all. …essential JM. The Mets promptly become jelly in the late innings.

    Frankly the Mets dont need Meija to start..(plus they coulda signed Yunesky instead). …I for one like Meija to be seasoned in the majors as a roogy, (sans Dessens).

    As for the rotation: Santana, Pel, Dickey and Niese have formed a great core. Where would we be if they had offense and BP support…(a manager too). Insert a starter …Zambrano, Glen Perkins Sheets…(just some names).

    A credible 2ndbaseman would be nice..Aaron Hill (?) . And a veteran 3rd/4th OFer…(Brad hawpe?).