Matthew Cerrone, Lead WriterThe Opening Day pitching staff is looking like it will end up like this:
Rotation: Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Niese.
Bullpen: Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Carlos Torres, Jose Valverde, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice and John Lannan.
The organization has better pitchers than some of the men in this group, such as Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jenrry Mejia. However, I understand the long-term plan and business reasons that will delay what is going to eventually be an amazing pitching staff. This group will get there, and we’ll get to see soon, but we’re going to have to keep waiting, with promotions likely coming this summer.
Mejia deserves to be in the rotation. He’s earned it. However, my understanding is that, because Matsuzaka can opt out if not on the roster by May 1, and because he could actually have trade value if he pitches well, and because Mejia has a history of injury and is lacking innings experience, it’s easier to just demote Mejia and keep Matsuzaka where he pitched well at the end of 2013.
The question is: Will the Mets keep Mejia as a starting pitcher or make him a reliever to possibly help the big-league bullpen sooner than later?
Team insiders have said they will huddle late in spring training to decide Mejia’s fate, because they no longer want to keep shifting his role (ESPN NY, Mar. 18). I still believe they’ll choose to make him a starting pitcher, mostly because he’s done it well and starting pitchers are clearly viewed as more valuable considering how much more money they make than relievers. The only justifiable argument for making him a reliever would be that the team believes his arm and health are better suited for the bullpen, given the amount of innings and preparation to pitch. Otherwise, if he can start, he should start.