If you want to talk about one of the most truly bizarre Mets careers, you need not look much further than Jenrry Mejia. Really, it started that way, and it ended that way.
Mejia was shockingly a member of the Opening Day roster for the 2010 Mets at the behest of Jerry Manuel. Seeing his power arm, Manuel wanted the Mets to eschew his development as a potential front line starter and make him the bullpen arm the team needed. The Mets would acquiesce and give Manuel some conditions, ones Manuel would ultimately by and large ignore.
That started a strange four year odyssey where the Mets could not figure out if they wanted Mejia to be a starter or reliever. Initially after sending him down in 2010, they wanted to stretch him out to be a starter, but time and again, they would move him back to the bullpen. That may have been a factor in his needing Tommy John surgery in 2011.
You could somewhat understand the Mets thinking. Mejia was one of the best pitchers in the organization, and for a team in perpetual need of bullpen help, you could see why they wanted him on the Major League roster. However, when he did get the rare chance to start, he would show flashes of being great.
Mejia had a good stretch in the Major League rotation in 2013, and before he was shut down for innings limits in 2013, he appeared to have locked down a spot in the Major League rotation. In fact, he would be a part of the 2014 Opening Day rotation, and he would actually start the season quite well including another terrific start against the Nationals.
Mejia would weaken over the first month of the season, and he would again be moved to the bullpen. This time, he would stick there, and after the retread arms of Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde were released, Mejia was named as the teams’ closer. He proved up the to task.
From May 17, when he recorded his first save, until the end of the year, he recorded 28 saves, which was tied for 11th most in the Majors. It is also the 17th highest single-season save total in Mets history. Again, this needs the added context of this being named the closer after a month-and-a-half of the season had passed and while pitching for a sub .500 team.
During that time, Mets fans thought they had the closer of the future, and he would electrify the crowd with what had become known as the “Mejia Stomp” after he converted a save. What should have been the launching point of his career turned into his being a flash in the pan.
On Opening Day of 2015, Mejia injured his elbow warming up to earn a save. He’d land on the DL with elbow inflammation, and he would receive the first of his PED suspensions. In total, he’d only make seven scoreless appearances for the 2015 Mets before being levied with PED suspensions leading to what was then a permanent suspension from baseball. He would be the first such player to serve such a suspension in MLB history.
Despite that, Mejia has performed better than any of the four players who has worn the number 58, and as a result, him and his stomp are the best to ever wear that number in Mets history.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver
42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw
46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres
57. Johan Santana
After the 2013 season, the Mets made the decision to non-tender Justin Turner. That is something important to remember with all the issues with David Wright, the failure that was the 2017 season, and with Turner joining Kirk Gibson as the only Dodger to hit a walk0ff postseason homer:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 16, 2017
It’s incredible to think it’s 29 years to the day of Gibson’s dramatic Game 1 home run off Dennis Eckersley. It’s also incredible to think the Mets had no use for Turner.
This is the point where everyone enters into some needless arguing. The defenders of Sandy Alderson will say Turner hit .280/.319/.385 with a 0.8 WAR in 2013 right before the Mets decided to non-tender him. The people upset with the move will point out how Turner worked with Marlon Byrd to help increase his launch angle. It should be noted that in September 2013, Turner hit .357/.357/.571.
It also should be noted Turner was first time arbitration eligible and due approximately $1 million. The Mets passed, and the Dodgers eventually gave it to him. Turner emerged as the everyday third baseman, and the Dodgers have won four straight division titles.
Overall, the argument boils down to this:
- Defenders point to past performance as justification
- Critics point to Turner’s production
Put that all aside and really ask what is the job of the General Manager. Is it for a General Manager to analyze past production to determine the future outlook of a player? Or is it to analyze a player and pay him based upon what is a reasonable expectation of future production?
Before answering the question, here’s just one more to ponder – Was it worth $1 million to find out if Turner’s September production was indicative of future success?
The IBWAA Hoyt Wilhelm Award is for the best relief pitcher in the National League. While the National League has had a number of good relievers this past season, there have been three clear standouts over the course of the season that deserves this award:
1st – Addison Reed
Given how Terry Collins has ridden his two best bullpen guys all season, this was a toss up between the two of them. Looking at the numbers, Reed just had a better season.
Time and again, Collins has leaned on Reed in the high leverage eighth inning of games to preserve the Mets lead. For a vast majority of the time, Reed has done that in impressive fashion. In 80 appearances, Reed is 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.940 WHIP, a 10.5 K/9, 209 ERA+, and a 1.98 FIP. Those 78 appearances are the third most in the majors (and National League). His 1.97 ERA is fifth among National League relievers with at least 60 innings pitched. His 2.9 WAR is the highest among relievers. His WHIP ranks fifth among relievers. By the way, Reed has made more appearances than the pitchers that are ahead of him in those categories.
This all speaks to how exceptional Reed has been in his role as the Mets eighth inning guy. In fact, Reed’s 40 holds this season is the most in the majors. In fact, it is 10 more than Kyle Barraclough who is in second place. Reed is a huge reason why the Mets are close to unbeatable when they have the lead after seven innings. In terms of a bullpen role, no one has done their job better than Reed, which is why he should be the Hoyt Wilhelm Award Winner.
2nd – Jeurys Familia
For the second straight season, Familia has been the most used, most durable, and best closer in the National League.
In 2016, Familia made more appearances, more innings pitched, and more saves than any other closer in all of baseball. His 51 saves this season surpassed Francisco Cordero and Jose Valverde for the most saves in a single season by a Dominican born pitcher. He has obliterated the Mets single season save record he once shared with Armando Benitez. Keep in mind, a large part of his breaking the save records was because Familia kept the ball in the ballpark. Over the course of the entire 2016 season, Familia has only allowed one home run.
Familia was also at his best when the Mets needed him to be at his best. With the team needing each and every win possible in August and September, Familia was as dominant as he has ever been. In that two month stretch, Familia made 27 appearances recording 14 saves with a 1.62 ERA, a 1.000 WHIP, and a 10.6 K/9 while limiting batters to a .186 batting average.
Overall, for the season, Familia was 3-4 with 51 saves, a 2.55 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 161 ERA+, and a 2.39 FIP. When you put up these numbers while your manager keeps throwing you into games without giving you much time off to rest, you have been the best closer in your league. .
3rd – Seung-hwan Oh
Choosing the third reliever for this vote was a difficult task. Both Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen, who both had outstanding years again as closers for postseason teams. However, the nod here went to The Final Boss for a number of reasons.
First, Oh made the second more appearances than Melancon and Jansen. His 2.8 WAR was also the second highest WAR posted by any relief pitcher in the National League. He also helped saved a Cardinals bullpen and season by first being a dominant set-up man, and then being a dominant closer once Trevor Rosenthal went down with injury. As a closer, Oh was 4-3 with 19 saves, a 2.27 ERA, 0.958 WHIP, and an 11.3 K/9. For the season Oh made 76 appearances going 6-3 with 19 saves, a 1.92 ERA, 0.916 WHIP, 11.6 K/9, 214 ERA+, and a 2.13 FIP.
With that, Oh was about as dominant a relief pitcher as there was in the National League. With him mastering multiple roles, and his stepping up to fill a huge void for a Cardinals team in the thick of the Wild Card race, he deserves the last spot on the ballot.
Cabrera’s home run was his 20th of the season breaking Reyes’ single season Mets record for homers by a shortstop.
Instead the Mets had a 2-0 lead allowing everyone to comfortably watch Bartolo Colon do his thing.
It the first, he pounced off the mound to grab a Jorge Polanco grounder to start an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 17, 2016
In the bottom of the inning, he struck out bunting with runners on first and third. It wasn’t a suicide squeeze, but man that would’ve been fun to see. Overall, Colon earned his 14th win pitching seven innings allowing only three hits and walking two while striking out six.
In the seventh, the Mets got some breathing room. Alejandro De Aza lead off the inning with a pinch hit single, and he would move to second when Cabrera drew a walk. De Aza would score easily on a Cespedes single right through the originator. That 3-0 lead was more than enough for Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia.
It was Familia’s 49th save of the season which ties the single season record held by Jose Valverde for most saves by a Dominican born pitcher.
This win and Colon’s performance overshadowed some pretty ugly performances by some struggling players. Jay Bruce was 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout leaving two men on base. Travis d’Arnaud was 0-4 with a strikeout leaving three men on base. However, even with these struggling players, a win is a win.
With the win, the Mets are assured of gaining ground on someone as the Giants and Cardinals play later tonight.
Game Notes: With news of Lucas Duda being activated tomorrow, James Loney had his best game in quite some time going 2-4 with a hustle double and a terrific diving play. Matt Reynolds came on to play shortstop in the ninth as Cabrera had a leg issue (not his injured knee). Juan Lagares was activated before the game but did not play.
When perusing the lineup, it was surprising to see T.J. Rivera‘s name in the lineup instead of Kelly Johnson with the right hander starting. Rivera would justify Collins’ faith in him going 3-4 with his first major league homer and three RBI. He would also rob Daniel Murphy of a base hit with a nice play in the first.
Things had started out well with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. Tonight, he continued to make his Cy Young case in striking out his 200th batter of the season and dominating the Nationals.
Thor’a final line was seven innings, four hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 10 strikeouts. He had his dominant stuff working throwing his hardest slider in the second half.
The only run he allowed was off a Wilson Ramos opposite field double. Ramos only had a chance to hit it as Thor took a little off his fastball there. It was thrown at 98 MPH.
Aside from that double, Thor had everything working. He wouldn’t get the win because the Mets couldn’t generate enough offense.
Asdrubal Cabrera continued his second half tear. He doubled in his first two at bats, and even on a hobbled knee, he would steal third after each double. It was heads up base running as he took advantage of the Nationals shifting with Curtis Granderson at the plate.
In true Mets fashion, they would strand him there in the first. However, in the third, T.J. Rivera took advantage of the RBI opportunity much in the same way he’s taken advantage of every opportunity he’s ever been given by this Mets organization. Rivera’s RBI single would tie the score at one. Rivera would be heard from again.
In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes would start the game winning rally with a single off Nationals starter A.J. Cole. Granderson brought him home with an RBI triple. Rivera then brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
With the seven innings from Thor, and the two run lead, the game was effectively over. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless eighth, putting Jeurys Familia in position to recorded his 49th save of the season to tie Jose Valverde for the most saves in a single season by a Dominican born pitcher.
It didn’t happen as Familia was abandoned by his defense.
Murphy just beat out an infield base hit bringing Bryce Harper to the plate. Familia did his job getting Harper to ground to Jose Reyes. With no play at second on Murphy, Reyes went to first throwing wide of the bag. James Loney, who never stretches, also apparently never comes off the bag.
Instead of Murphy and second with one out, the Nationals had runners on second and third with no outs. Anthony Rendon hit a single past the diving Reyes. On the play, Reyes did not show much range. The Nationals then tied the game on a Ramos infield single.
At this point, the wheels were unravelling, and it appeared to be a near certainty the Mets were going to lose. There were runners on first and second with no outs. Familia bore down. He first got Ryan Zimmerman to hit a weak liner to Loney. Clint Robinson then hit a sinking line drive to Rivera, who nabbed it just before it hit the dirt. Not taking chances, he flipped to Rivera for a 4-6-3 double play.
The game was tied at three making it a brand new ballgame. Rivera would untie it in the 10th with his first career home run off Mark Melancon.
It put the capper on what was a terrific game for the undrafted Rivera. Tonight, he showed everyone the guile and talent that took him from non-prospect status to an important contributor for a playoff team.
Fernando Salas then came on to close it out in the bottom of the 10th. One of the reasons why he the Mets got him was his closing experience. He got so close too by making quick work of the first two batters. However, Jayson Werth would bloop one in, and Terry Collins wouldn’t take any chances.
Collins went to the former National Jerry Blevins to get the former Met Murphy. For what it’s worth, Murphy has trouble with Blevins:
Murphy was telling me at All Star Game he just has trouble seeing the ball out of Blevins' hand
— Kevin Kernan (@AMBS_Kernan) September 14, 2016
Blevins would then get a huge strikeout of Murphy recording his first save as a Met giving the Mets a 4-3 victory.
With that, the Mets get back in the win column and have a chance to get some breathing room in the Wild Card race with the Cardinals currently losing.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores is still unable to go with a neck injury.