I told you that New York Mets fans should be excited about the return of pitcher Jenrry Mejia to the big leagues, and now you know why. While making his season debut in the first game of a double-header with the Washington Nationals Friday afternoon, Mejia was awfully impressive, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
Mejia was brilliant all afternoon as he looked like the pitcher the Mets thought they had a few years ago when he was the top prospect in their organization. His cut fastball was consistently in the low-to-mid 90s with the kind of late break that had right-handed batters swinging and missing. Mejia also threw a devastating slider that broke on two planes and had wicked movement. He also flashed a useful change-up and a curveball with great 12-to-6 action.
Not only did Mejia showcase brilliant stuff in his return to the big leagues, but he also looked like a more mature and polished pitcher, even though he is still just 23 years old. He called his own pitches, had a clear plan of attack, and pitched with the confidence of a much older pitcher. Mejia was also far more aggressive than he’s been in any of his previous stints in the big leagues, which helped him to be economical with his pitches, throwing less than 100 pitches in seven complete innings.
Also impressive about Mejia’s performance is that he didn’t walk any batters, nor did he allow any extra-base hits. All seven hits that Mejia allowed were singles, and many of those weren’t hit all that hard. Mejia appeared to get stronger throughout the game, getting many of his strikeouts later in the game and demoralizing many of Washington’s hitters. Even when he got into jams in the first few innings of the game, he didn’t panic and calmly worked his way of trouble.
Mejia’s performance gives the Mets a decision to make about his immediate future. Even though Washington has struggled offensively in recent times, Mejia’s mastery of a MLB lineup indicates that there is no need to return him to the minors. The Mets are likely to use a six-man rotation for the next week, but after that, they could easily move Carlos Torres back to the bullpen and keep Mejia in the rotation, at least until Jon Niese returns from injury, when they could have another decision to make.
Mejia’s role with the Mets in the long run is still uncertain, but after his performance against the Nationals, being a starter should still be considered a possibility. It will take more than one outing to know anything for sure, but Mejia has taken one big step towards joining Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and several other pitching prospects in being an integral part of the Mets’ future.