A few hours after I wrote that Eric Campbell should not be starting for the New York Mets, Terry Collins’ lineup had Campbell’s name penciled into the 5 hole and playing left field. Campbell was able to keep his streak of at least one hit or RBI in every game going and even made an impressive diving catch in the 8th inning which allowed him to double off Yasiel Puig. Incredulously, the Mets were able to win for just the sixth time this month, beating the Dodgers 4-3.
The Mets were just 2-10 with runners in scoring position, but, thanks to an impressive day on the mound by three different pitchers, the Mets were able to come away with the victory. Jonathan Niese went 7 innings and gave up just three runs and four hits. Dating back to last year, he has now given up three runs or less in 13 straight starts. Daisuke Matsuzaka was his usually brilliant self out of the pen, lowering his ERA to 2.14 and earning his second hold of the season.
In my opinion, the most noteworthy performance from the game last night came from Jenrry Mejia. Mejia pitched in back-to-back days for the first time this season, and he looked as sharp as ever. Mejia needed 15 pitches (8 strikes) to retire the side in order in the 9th, strucking out Scott Van Slyke to end the game.
After recently being named the closer on days that he can pitch, Mejia has done a nice job for the Mets out of the bullpen. As a reliever this season, he has thrown 5.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, no walks, and, most importantly, no runs. He has struck out 6 batters and has earned one win and two saves.
One reason, besides injuries and ineffectiveness, for Mejia’s demotion to the bullpen and promotion to closer is his ability to get hitters who are seeing him for the first time out. As a starter, his ERA the first time through the order was 0.84 and batters were hitting just .211 against him. The second time through the order was much different, as his ERA stood at 3.86 with a .245 batting average against. Though not an extremely substantial difference, something clearly changed from the first time through the order to the second time. I’m not one to speculate the cause (there are plenty of factors that could be at play), but something made Mejia less effective. Mejia’s numbers the third time through the lineup were even more staggering. His ERA stood at 15.95, with players hitting .405 against him.
To remedy Mejia’s obvious troubles, the Mets decided to move Mejia to the bullpen. Once there, it became clear that Mejia was the best choice to begin closing games. Still a young pitcher at just 24 years old, Mejia should be a key piece to the Mets success of the future. Whether that success comes as starter, a long-reliever, a setup man, or a closer remains to be seen. Mejia has shined in his new role as closer and he should continue to get save opportunities the rest of the year. At the start of 2015, with Bobby Parnell coming back from his injury, the Mets should have a definitive and permanent role for Jenrry Mejia.