Jenry Mejia’s return from injury can be described as nothing but a success, especially with avoiding ball four.
Two stats stand out above the rest in his four Major League starts this season. His walk percentage and his strikeout to walk ratio jump off the page when reviewing his baseball reference page.
Mejia has a career 9.0 BB%, 1.63 K/BB, 8.7 BB% and 2.19 K/BB in the majors and minors respectively. Keep in mind that Fangraphs.com considers a 10 BB% to be awful, an 8.5 BB% to be average and a 4.0 BB% to be excellent. For additional context, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright leads qualified major league pitchers in a K/BB ratio at 6.75.
Clearly Mejia’s numbers won’t stay at what would be a league leading pace, but the question is, to what extent can he maintain his stellar walk numbers?
Mejia is a different pitcher than fans have seen in recent years. He has thrown less fastballs and curveballs and instead has incorporated a slider.
Mejia clearly thinks the slider has had a huge impact on his pitching.
“When I came here in September last year, Dan Warthen showed me how to throw a slider,” Mejia told the Daily News. “Then I threw it in winter ball. And now I throw it perfect.”
The other noticeable change is his lower fastball velocity, which may be allowing him to better locate. Mejia has explained the lower velocity is an attempt to keep his elbow, which is slated for surgery this off-season healthier.
“You have to lower the velocity so you feel better during the course of the game,” Mejia told The Star-Ledger in Spanish. “You can’t throw hard. You need to throw intelligently so the arm doesn’t start bothering you because everyone knows what I have. It’s better to throw intelligently, throw strikes and get outs.”
The stats, a fluke perhaps, but if it isn’t, we could be seeing the evolution of a young players game.
There is a reason why he was ranked in Baseball America’s top 60 prospects for two consecutive seasons. Maybe after he had Tommy John surgery, and a thyroid condition, set his career back he is ready to break out and supplement what already looks to be a strong future rotation.