According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets are sending top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia to the minor leagues in order to stretch him out and bring him back as a starter about a month from now.

The 20-year-old right hander has been strong out of the bullpen for the Mets this year with a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings, but the Mets rotation now has bigger holes than their bullpen. That’s because Jon Niese has landed on the DL, Oliver Perez has been pulled from the rotation, and John Maine has been inconsistent and unreliable.

The team’s intention all along has been to develop Mejia as a starter, but coming out of spring training manager Jerry Manuel felt the bullpen was thin and petitioned for Mejia to join the team in Flushing out of the bullpen. Rubin said it best: a trip to the minors to stretch out Mejia is comparable to a spring training stint. He’ll have about four to five weeks to stretch himself out and prepare for Major League hitters.

My question is – is Mejia ready to face major leaguers as a starting pitcher? It’s a tough one to answer, but while his results have overall been pretty positive out of the bullpen, there are some numbers that are alarming as he is being asked to prepare for a much more strenuous role.

For one thing, Mejia has allowed a lot of base runners with a 1.62 WHIP. That’s due mostly to his high walks total, nine in 17.1 innings. He has also been largely protected, facing hitters in low leverage situations. I’m not sure what that has been exactly about, but if it has been an effort to protect him as he breaks into the majors there will be nowhere to hid as he will have to attempt to go through lineups two or three times.

Either way, Mejia’s future is brightest as a starter, and the fact that the Mets are removing him from the bullpen is a good sign because it is a step in the right direction for the future of baseball’s youngest pitcher.

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