NEW YORK -- An infusion of youth and the installation of a steady closer has transmogrified the Mets' bullpen from just another question mark into arguably the team's biggest strength. But as the eighth inning of Monday's eventual 4-3 win showed, it is far from perfect.
Manager Terry Collins called on closer Jenrry Mejia with two outs in the eighth inning, and the right-hander promptly allowed one inherited runner and one of his own to score for a temporary Braves lead. Mejia also pitched a scoreless ninth.
It was the sixth time in 24 games since Mejia re-transitioned to relieving that his outing lasted more than one inning, and it was the sixth time he threw 20 or more pitches.
Collins said he wants to keep outings of that sort -- especially the three-plus-out appearances -- to a minimum going forward despite previously saying he felt comfortable using Mejia in that way because of his starter background.
"You're asking for trouble by asking [Mejia] to do it a lot," Collins said. "It's just not what those guys [relievers] are supposed to do. They pride themselves on getting ready fast for a short burst. The more you ask them to go out and throw a lot of pitches, all of a sudden, you're going to lose them for two or three days in a row just because they're going to start getting fatigued just due to the warmups and the workload."
Mejia was unavailable for Tuesday's contest, with righty Jeurys Familia getting closer duties should a save situation arise. Right-hander Carlos Torres, who has some swelling on the top of his throwing hand after a comebacker deflected off it Monday, was available if needed.
Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen agreed Mejia could use a day off because his arm was a little tired, a standard maintenance move. Collins also avoided Familia on Monday because when he pitched against the Rangers on Sunday, his fastball didn't quite have the same velocity it usually enjoys, according to the manager.
"He's not overworked by any stretch of the imagination right now," Collins said of Mejia. "It's just that right now he's gone back-to-back days, had to throw a lot of pitches [Monday] night. So we're going to back him off today."
Mejia's workload is worth monitoring moving forward, however, given that he's just 24 and has an injury-riddled past. He's at 62 1/3 innings with the season just past the halfway mark, and only once in seven previous professional seasons has Mejia reached the 100-inning plateau. Having pitched in 31 games, he's also closing in rather quickly on his career-high of 42 from 2010.
This season is also different from all the others for Mejia in that he's spending more time relieving than during any other.
"I think we need to take a look at it certainly in a month or so, the number of innings he's got, the number of appearances he's been in," Collins said. "He's gone four or five days without getting in a game. So to pitch 1 1/3 innings isn't an overload by any means, except if you have to do it three days in a row or something. Then it becomes an issue."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.