Cubs 5 Mets 3
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Chicago, but not so beautiful a debut for Jenrry Mejia.
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.