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.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.