Over the weekend, Terry Collins indicated that he was unsure if Jenrry Mejia would make his next scheduled start on Wednesday. Sandy Alderson told reporters today that he will not. In his place, the Mets are calling up Las Vegas 51s right-hander Rafael Montero and slotting him into Mejia's spot in the rotation. Mejia will move to the bullpen, where he has pitched off and on again since his debut season in 2010.
Mejia had a good start to the 2014 season but faltered recently. Through his first four starts, he had a 1.99 ERA, but in his last three starts, he has thrown 14.2 innings while allowing 16 earned runs and three home runs. Even though he allowed only two runs in his most recent start on Friday against the Phillies, he was pitch-inefficient and managed to get through a mere 4.2 innings. In addition to his struggles, the Mets indicated that Mejia would be limited to 120 innings for the season.
In his place, the Mets will now rely on 23-year-old right-handed Domincan Rafael Montero. In his eight starts this season, Montero has pitched to the tune of a 3.67 ERA and a 3.97 FIP. Reputed to be a control artist, he has struggled some in that regard so far in 2014. His current walk rate sits at 3.89 per nine innings, compared to rates of 2.00 and 1.40 in the 2013 and 2012 seasons, respectively. On the plus side, Montero has managed to strikeout 8.9 batters per nine innings so far this season on the strength of a fastball that sits in the low-90s and can touch the mid-90s when he digs a little deeper.
In addition to the Mejia/Montero shakeup, more changes to the pitching staff may be coming. Sandy Alderson may be inclined to bring up 51s right-hander Jacob deGrom in the next few days. He has been scratched from tonight's scheduled start, which would preserve him for bullpen work in the Subway Series.
Montero will now face Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees on Wednesday night. While Mejia as closer is an enticing proposition, he won't begin his bullpen tenure in that role. With Montero in the rotation and Mejia in the bullpen, a likely candidate for demotion is Jose Valverde. And if deGrom is called up in the next few days, perhaps Kyle Farnsworth or Gonzalez Germen will be designated for assignment.