Plain and simple, the Mets need starting pitching.

With the injury to Jon Niese and Oliver Perez’s demotion to the bullpen, the Mets’ starting rotation is beginning to resemble that of a college team. While the offense has been present this year, the Mets’ problems fall with their pitching.

Last year, as a 19 year old, Jenrry Mejia dominated the Florida State League. Once Mejia moved up to AA, he began to struggle. In Double A, he posted and 0-5 record with a 4.47 ERA.

Looking at his stats, no one would have expected Mejia to start this season in the majors.

Then, in spring training, Mejia wowed the Mets’ front office (I do not know how difficult this is as Gary Matthews Jr. also “wowed” the Mets’ front office enough to be acquired). Surprisingly, Mejia was placed on the opening day roster as a reliever.

Mejia has definitely had success in the majors so far posting a 2.60 ERA through 19 appearances. He could become a solid reliever, but that should not be his future. Mejia has the skill set to be a top of the rotation starter. With the Mets’ starting pitching woes, Mejia should be groomed to take a spot in the rotation within the next two years.

The way Mejia has been handled so far reminds me of two previous mishandlings of top New York prospects.

Many fans will remember how the Mets mishandled Aaron Heilman.

Yes Mets fans, Aaron Heilman was once a top prospect. Heilman was given a chance to start in the majors and struggled. He was then converted to a reliever and was never given another opportunity to start with the Mets. Heilman had the skills to be a talented starter. This is evident from his one hitter in 2005.

Like Mejia, Heilman had early success as a reliever. Eventually, the league figured him out and he became and average pitcher. This could be a potential path for Mejia. He certainly has more talent than Heilman, but due to the incompetence of the Mets’ organization, he could be destined for the same fate.

Across town, Joba Chamberlain was tearing through the minor leagues.

At age 21, Chamberlain was called up to the majors as a reliever. His performance can only be described with one word: dominant—he posted a 0.38 ERA in 24 innings.

Then, the dreaded Joba Rules were established.

In 2008, Chamberlain started part time and saw success. Then, in 2009 Chamberlain was made a full time starter. He struggled at times and he looked like an average pitcher. This year, Chamberlain was sent back to the ‘pen. It is unknown when or if he will be returned to the starting rotation this year. He has struggled in relief this year posting a 4.91 ERA.

Chamberlain was a higher rated prospect than Mejia. He has struggled due to misuse, and the same can and will happen to Mejia.

These should be cautionary tales for the Mets.

It would be in the team’s best interest to send Mejia down to the minors and allow him to continue to develop as a starter. Mejia has the potential to be a top-flight ace and the Mets need to take advantage of this talent.

Right now, his potential is being wasted as a reliever.

It is fairly obvious that Mejia was brought to the majors to save Jerry Manuel’s job. At this point in the year, it appears that nothing Jerry does will get him fired. The team has struggled, the lineup continues to be switched, and Mejia has been misused.

It will be a sad day if Jenrry Mejia goes down in the annals of Mets history in vein—much like Aaron Heilman, Alex Ochoa, Alex Escobar, Billy Traber, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson.

Read more MLB news on