Fresh off being bumped from the starting rotation earlier this week, Jenrry Mejia could soon emerge as the Mets’ closer.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters this afternoon that Mejia will close against the Yankees tonight if a save situation arises. Collins isn’t ready to name him as the team’s permanent closer, as he wants to see him pitch on back-to-back days first, but it’s clear that’s what he would like to see.
“If we felt he was ready to go back-to-back days, possibly three days in a row, he would be the guy. But he is not at that stage yet,” Collins said.
As Rubin notes, Mejia hasn’t pitched on back-to-back days in his professional career since June 5-6, 2010. Of course, that was during his ill-fated first stint in the majors as a reliever. He got hurt soon after that and has been opposed to relief work ever since. The physical hurdle might be easier than the mental one.
Mejia, 24, posted a 5.04 ERA and 38/20 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings across seven starts prior to being moved to the bullpen earlier this week. He struck out two batters and allowed two hits over 1 1/3 scoreless innings during his first relief appearance on Monday.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.