Mets considering 20-year-old Mejia for bullpen

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Showing yet again that they’ve never met a prospect they won’t rush, the Mets have reportedly decided to keep Jenrry Mejia in big-league camp through the end of spring training to evaluate him as an Opening Day bullpen option.
Mejia is one of the game’s best pitching prospects and has looked great so far this spring, but he’s just 20 years old and his only action above Single-A was going 0-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts at Double-A last season. Of course, most organizations would never have pushed him to Double-A as a teenager to begin with, so the Mets got the overly aggressive ball rolling last season and now it’s just building up speed.
Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News notes that if Mejia doesn’t claim an Opening Day bullpen spot “he’s not going to be stretched out enough to immediately contribute in the [Double-A] Binghamton rotation” because “Jerry Manuel is determined to begin using Mejia in short and frequent relief spurts, to gauge how he reacts to pitching in that capacity.”
So instead of letting him develop normally and gradually as a starting pitcher, like just about any other team would with a young prospect of Mejia’s caliber, the Mets first rocketed him through the minors and are now considering limiting him to brief outings because they need short-term relief help. Mets fans sometimes accuse Hardball Talk of picking on them too much, but I’m starting to think maybe it’s actually not enough.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.