Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Contemplating Aldaberto Mejia

Adalberto Mejia did not have a "quality start" Monday night in Toronto. He allowed just one run (thanks in no small part to an effective outing from Matt Belisle, who entered with the bases loaded and one out and stranded all three runners), but he only pitched 5.1 innings, not the six required by the unofficial stat.

Short starts, as I've noted before, are not unusual for Mejia. Last season he made 21 starts for the Twins but pitched just 98 innings, less than five innings a start. This is part of why I think he makes a really good candidate to be used as the innings eater in a Tampa Bay-style "opener" game.

Mondy's game, if disected, does little to support that notion. Mejia  faced 26 batters, almost three full trips through the order. It was the bottom half of the order that forced him from the game in the sixth. He got through the more dangerous part of the Toronto order without serious danger his third time through.

Thad Levine, in the same radio segment in which he discussed the organization's testing of the opener tactic in the minors, said Mejia got the call for Monday's game in part because he's out of options after this year and the organization needs to decide what they have in him.

What we've seen in the majors doesn't match his minor league numbers. Mejia has very solid walk rates in the minors (2.9 walks per nine innings this season for Rochester), but he has not replicated those strike-throwing ways in the bigs. He threw first pitch strikes Monday to fewer than half the hitters he faced.

There was no move announced after the Monday game, but the Twins have already said that Ervin Santana is to start Wednesday. Presumably Mejia will be demoted as part of that.

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