Mejia is Latest Mets Pitching Casualty
Added by Guy Kipp on August 18, 2013.
Down goes Bobby Parnell. Down goes Jeremy Hefner. Back comes Jonathan Niese. And then, down goes Jenrry Mejia.
Mejia, who didn’t have a single poor outing in his five appearances on the mound since joining the Mets in July, left the Mets’ 8-2 loss to the Padres Saturday night with a flare-up of a pre-existing elbow condition described as bone chips, which will probably have to be surgically removed in the off-season.
The “bright” side is that shutting Mejia down in August for surgery it was already assumed he would be undergoing after the season can possibly give him a two-month jump on his rehab for 2014.
But the down side extends beyond the concern for the health and future of this extremely promising 23-year-old who has arguably thrown the ball—for the last month—every bit as well as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler have. The Mets have made it clear that, even though they are nowhere near contention, finishing strong is a paramount concern for them this season after several years of faltering badly in the second half.
That’s going to be tough now that Hefner and Mejia are likely done for the season. Parnell may be too, and they’ll now be looking to fill starting rotation spots and the closer’s role (at some point LaTroy Hawkins is going to need to rest his 40-year-old arm if it doesn’t fall off first) for the last six weeks of the season—while at the same time adhering to their self-imposed innings limits on pitching prospects who could otherwise help them down the stretch.
Mets fans would have a reason to watch the team in September if prospects like Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom were given a couple of starts. But they, like major leaguers Harvey and Wheeler, are approaching their innings limits for the season. Ironically, those limits are in place to help preserve their arms, but that’s something the Mets have had a lot of trouble doing with young and old arms alike.
In addition to the aforementioned pitching injuries in 2013, 23-year-old Jeurys Familia had elbow surgery on May 9 after eight games and 10 1/3 innings (some of them pretty impressive) early this season.
Last year, three members of the early-season starting rotation—Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee and, of course, Johan Santana—didn’t make it through the season without breaking down. Gee has come back and pitched very well (8-8, 3.79 ERA) this season, but only after enduring two dreadful months before finding his way again.
Since 2008, the Mets closer at the beginning of each season has failed to make it to the finish line in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and, now, 2013, assuming Parnell does not return from his herniated disc issue. And their approach with non-closers in their perpetually overworked bullpen has often seemed to be, “We know they are going to break down eventually, but we’re going to ride them as hard as we can until they darn well do.” See: Tim Byrdak, Scott Atchison, Taylor Buchholz and Fernando Nieve for examples of this.
All the lip service the Mets might be giving to the importance of a strong 2013 finish is going to be undermined severely if they have to start handing the ball to folks like Chris Schwinden for fill-in starts throughout September.
And their history of nurturing and developing young arms and keeping those arms healthy is dubious, at best. That truth is an alarming one for those who want to see the likes of Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Montero and others have healthy, thriving futures.