Two fabulous bits of news in one little story: ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports that the Mets are going to send Jenrry Mejia back to the minors to be stretched out for a return to starting duties and that they’re going to call up knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to take Wednesday’s start against the Nationals.
All of this is occasioned by the giant anvil that has been dropped on the Mets’ rotation as of late, what with Oliver Perez being kicked down to relief duties and John Niese tweaking his hamstring. In addition to Dickey being called in to start, Hisanori Takahashi is jointing the rotation as well and will take Friday’s start.
But no matter what’s occasioning all of this, they’re good moves. Mejia is the latest and perhaps the most regrettable recent example of a big league club taking a perfectly awesome starting pitcher and rushing him up to become a reliever in the majors. And just like Joba Chamberlain and Neftali Feliz before him, he’s been successful in the pen. Which shouldn’t be surprising, because it’s much easier to come in and throw one inning with your best gas and little need for secondary pitches.
The only problem is that teams appear to be confusing these guys’ success with “a reliever’s temperament” or some such nonsense, making them loathe to restore the guys back to the starting rotation where their skills can be put to better use. Thankfully the Mets have been forced into making the right move with Mejia. A guy who, if given the chance to develop his secondary pitches, gain a little strength and gain a little confidence, could turn into a top of the rotation starter.
Of course patience will be necessary for this to work out. If the plan is to send Mejia down to double A or something and let him spend the season starting in the minors, building arm strength and building confidence for the future, mazel tov. It’ll be another thing altogether, however, if the plan is to give him four weeks in Buffalo and then rush him back to New York to join the Mets’ rotation. If that happens he’s likely to get shelled, because really, it’s going to take longer than that for Mejia to get a feel for the changeup and curveball he really hasn’t had to use that much this year, and he’s going to need those pitches to be whip-smart if he expects to get major league hitters out with them two and three times in a single game.
But let’s leave our hand-wringing over that for another day. For today, be happy that the Mets are doing the right thing with their best pitching prospect since Doc Gooden. Oh, and that they’re calling up a knuckleballer, because that’s really cool.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.
The Dodgers lost Clayton Kershaw yesterday. For how long we do not know, but he has missed a lot of time in the past with previous back injuries so it’d be somewhat optimistic to assume that he’s going to hit the disabled list for ten days, come back and be the Clayton Kershaw of six days ago without any muss or fuss. L.A. has also lost Brandon McCarthy to the DL, so while their division lead is comfortable at the moment, there could be some rough waters ahead.
In light of that, this rumor — which emerged before Kershaw left yesterday’s game against the Braves — may be one to watch in the next couple of days:
As we noted last week, the Rangers are looking at the possibility of moving Darvish, who will be a free agent at the end of this year. The Dodgers would seem to be an excellent landing spot for him.
Darvish is 6-8 with a 3.44 ERA and has struck out 143 batters to only 43 walks in 133.1 innings. While he has missed time with injury in recent years, he’s the sort of talent that one could easily see going on an ace-like run. If he did that for a Dodgers team that, otherwise, seems to be at its peak of competitiveness, it’d be worth the heavy price they’d have to pay to get him.
Old folks like me remember such runs from starters picked up at the deadline. Doyle Alexander cost the Tigers John Smoltz in 1987, but he also propelled them to the AL East crown. The Astros had to give up Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen to get Randy Johnson in 1998, but he went on an historic tear after arriving in Houston and helped the club to 102 wins and the NL Central title. As both of those clubs learned in the playoffs, of course, one ace and a division title do not a season make, but you can’t even make your season if you don’t have the horses.
It’s too soon to say whether the Dodgers will have the horses in their rotation to go farther than those two teams did, but they’d have a lot better chance with Darvish, would they not?