May 18, 2010, 8:42 AM EDT
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.
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