When the grass was first cut and the infield groomed at Citi Field for the opening of the 2014 season, many die-hard Mets fans expected the orange and blue to have an ace. One problem, their ace Matt Harvey wouldn’t be toeing the rubber for the 2014 season. Who would be the Mets number one pitcher? Most people felt it would be Bartolo Colon, one of the two biggest prizes of the offseason. Others felt that Zach Wheeler would follow in the path of Harvey’s sophomore campaign and rise to the occasion. While those pitchers may not look like aces here in April, there is one who has, and noone saw him coming.
After winning the fifth starter role out of camp, it looked like Jenrry Mejia was just added to the roster to keep a spot in the rotation warm for Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero. Through four starts this year Mejia is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 25 strikeouts. While it remains to be seen if he can get through an entire season without an injury, if he continues to stay healthy the Mets may have another future ace in their rotation. At the age of 24, Mejia has already shown he can be a starter in the majors posting a 2.30 ERA in 2013. However, he has never completed a full season and needs to find a way to stay on the field. If he can pitch an entire year, the Mets may have another great front line starter to pair with Matt Harvey in 2015.
Watching Mejia early in this season it is clear that he has made some great adjustments that have been crucial to his success. Mejia has focused more on location then trying to overpower hitters with his fastball. His fastball still remains in the low to mid 90s, but he has better command and gets great late life on the pitch. When he first came up, Mejia tried to overthrow this pitch and get it into the upper 90s. With an ability to now throw his breaking pitches consistently for strikes, Mejia has been very effective at keeping batters off balance and guessing what pitch is coming next. Now with better control of his fastball and vast improvement of his breaking pitches, it is clear that not only does Mejia have control on the mound this season but something even better, confidence.
Seeing Mejia steadily improving start after start has to give Mets’ fans hope that this team will be in serious contention in 2015. If Mejia can continue to develop, the Mets arm race for power arms just could give them one of if not the best young rotation in the game of baseball.