For the past few seasons, Jenrry Mejia has been something of a question mark for the Mets, as the highly talented hurler has struggled to stay healthy and stick with the big club over parts of four seasons. After making the team as a starter out of Spring Training, Mejia opened the season strong before derailing in early May, punching his ticket to the bullpen, where there was a desperate need for live arms. As Sandy Alderson's budget veteran signings in Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde flamed out and closer Bobby Parnell was lost long-term with an elbow injury, ninth inning duties suddenly opened up.
Enter Mejia, who had primarily been used as a reliever when breaking into the bigs as a 20-year old in 2010, to assume that role. Over the last three weeks, he has yet to allow a single run through eight relief appearances, posting a 1-1 record with four saves in 9 1/3 innings of work. He's continued to strike batters out at a rapid pace, fanning nine in that span.
Even more importantly, Mejia has shown an ability to pitch on short rest, appearing in both games of last Saturday's doubleheader and following that effort up with a save on Monday, his third appearance in three days. As the Mets continue to call-up young arms, Mejia's emergence as closer has given the club an excellent starting point as they look to find roles for their recent surplus of pitching talent. We've already seen Jeurys Familia evolve from a middle reliever to someone who can be relied on for late inning duty, as he recorded the final five outs for his first save on Tuesday, with Mejia unavailable.
With a log jam on the horizon in the rotation, Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom could join Mejia, Familia and Vic Black in the reformed bullpen, giving the Mets their most formidable cast to finish off ballgames in quite some time. As long as Terry Collins can effectively manage his bullpen arms and not set his relievers up for overwork and injury, what was recently a weakness of the Mets can quickly become a strength.
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