In terms of talent, Mike Pelfrey is hardly an ace. But Big Pelf, at least by definition, is the “Number One” guy on the Mets’ staff. He should be treated accordingly. Last night, Mike allowed two runs in six innings. The Brewers hit some balls hard against him, and he served up a Home Run Derby pitch to Prince Fielder, but overall he did a good job handling the Milwaukee lineup. Which begs the question: Why did Terry Collins remove him after just 72 pitches?
Pelfrey was due up to bat with two outs and a man on first in the top of the 7th, with the Mets trailing 2-1. I know what Collins is thinking: Pelfrey is an automatic out, and this could be the last chance for the Mets to score. But for several reasons, Terry had no business pinch hitting for him.
For one, there were two outs and the runner, Paulino, was not even in scoring position (not to mention the fact that even a gapper might not score Ronny). If there were men on second and third, it would have been a different story. There weren’t. Second, your “Number One” had thrown just 72 pitches in six innings. 72 pitches! An ace should not be pulled in that scenario — no pitcher should — especially when it’s a one-run game. And third, the Mets’ bullpen was very unlikely to throw three good innings. As it turned out, it couldn’t even hold a four-run lead.
It’s a pitcher’s job, and an ace’s job especially, to go deep into games when possible. This holds true even more so when the bullpen is struggling. By yanking Pelfrey after six innings, Collins showed both a lack of confidence in his ace, and a lack of confidence in his offense. And it came back to bite him.
Of course, Beato and Isringhausen are to blame for blowing a four-run lead. That’s unacceptable. But in my mind, Collins is also at fault. He should have left Big Pelf out there in the 7th and 8th. He had plenty left in the tank. He gives you the best chance to win. He’s your ace.