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Fantasy Baseball: Health Risk Only Thing Between Jenrry Mejia and Fantasy Stardom

Fantasy baseball owners have shied away from Jenrry Mejia because of his injury-riddled past but the Mets’ phenom is well worth the gamble.

Jenrry Mejia
Jenrry Mejia

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Jenrry Mejia is the best pitcher available on the waiver wire that no one wants to touch. It’s completely understandable. Despite going 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 25 strikeouts over his first four starts, Mejia is owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo leagues because injuries have limited him to a whopping eight starts over the last two seasons.

It seems, though, just as with countryman Johnny Cueto, the risk is worth taking.

The similarities between Cueto and Mejia don’t end at their birthplace. Neither is an imposing figure with both listed at around 6-feet. Both were ranked among the top 40 or so prospects coming up. Both took about 70 minor league starts to get to the Majors with Cueto posting a 3.35 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 over 67 starts while Mejia notched a 2.87 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 8.0 K/9 over 74 starts. And of course, both have been undervalued in the fantasy baseball world due to injury.

Now, Cueto, who had an ADP of around the 42nd pitcher taken in drafts, owns a strong 2.81 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts to just eight walks through 30 innings. Mejia, who went undrafted in almost all leagues, has posted a 1.99 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 25 strikeouts to 14 walks.

Though Mejia has been a bit wild, that is not the norm for him. Last season, he posted a 1.3 BB/9 rate through five starts and in the minors he owned a reasonable 3.6 BB/9 rate over his career. The walks will come down and the hits (6.4/9) are already low. His home run rate is very low as well. He owned a stellar 0.3 HR/9 over his minor league career and has given up 0.7 HR/9 since last season.

Clearly, there is nothing in his numbers to suggest that Mejia is anything but an excellent pitcher with a very high fantasy ceiling. Not unlike Johnny Cueto, who owns a 2.54 ERA and 1.10 WHIP since 2011. The only thing holding Mejia from being a fantasy superstar like his fellow countryman is his injury-riddled past but fantasy owners are going to have to bite the bullet on this one to have a chance at what appears to be a breakout season in the making.

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