On April 11, 2015 the New York Mets bullpen took an immense blow – closer Jenrry Mejia was suspended for 80 days for PED use. With Mejia out for such an extended period and with the status of Josh Edgin, Bobby Parnell, and Vic Black, it seemed like the Mets bullpen (which was expected to be a strength for the team) was in jeopardy.
However, the Mets bullpen managed to pull through its tough time. Even after the fall of Jerry Blevins, players like Hansel Robles and Erik Goeddel (now also on the DL) stepped up and performed at a very high level. And of course, the massive success of new closer Jeurys Familia helped substantially.
Now, it seems, times can only get better for the Mets bullpen as, even though his velocity is still below normal, Bobby Parnell has been excellent since his return and in four days Jenrry Mejia will be eligible to return to the major leagues.
Mejia has been stellar in his minor-league pitching in these past weeks, currently pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas. But this leads to the question, what will be Mejia’s role when he makes his return?
Mets manager Terry Collins says that Mejia will not be returning as the closer, as that job is firmly clasped by Familia. Rather, Mejia will become the set-up man in the 8th inning. So it seems that Mejia and Familia have switched roles from the 2014 to the 2015 seasons.
However, Mejia’s return also adds another possibility for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson – to use Mejia as a trade chip. The glaring problem with the New York Mets right now is not the bullpen – it’s the offense. While a pitcher such as Jon Niese is not worth all that much on his own, packaging him with somebody like Jenrry Mejia can help the Mets bring in somebody who could be a bat in the lineup.
However, this idea relies on the fact that Mejia will be able to pitch at the level that he did last year. While his minor-league outings are very promising, he cannot be truly judged until he pitches against real major-league batters.
Regardless of what the Mets decide to do with Mejia, his return to the Majors can only be beneficial to the team.