Let’s be honest; Mets fans weren’t excited to see Mike Pelfrey take the hill this season once the team broke camp from Port St. Lucie. As if the uneven results through his first six MLB seasons wasn’t enough, the Mets right-hander had a very poor spring (1-2 record, 7.62 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .303 Op BA). As an established player, Pelfrey had the luxury of toying around with some of his pitches to see what he was comfortable with bringing to the table once the season started, but it would have been nice to see him make some significant steps forward after a poor 2011.
However, once the season started, he has shown fans and management alike that he’s worth the more than $5 million that he’s getting
paid this year. He hasn’t gotten a decision yet, but has held opponents in check during his 11.2 innings of work, only allowing four runs (3.09 ERA) and having his best SO/BB ratio of his career (3.33). I mean, it hasn’t all been pretty because his 1.8 WHIP is horrendous, but even though he’s allowed 21 base runners in 2012 (18 hits and 3 walks), he’s shown that he can buckle down and get out of jams. With such a fragile psyche, fans weren’t anticipating this kind of mental toughness.
Pelfrey has averaged 114 strikeouts per year in his career, and even though he’s not magically turning into a strikeout machine, his control has greatly improved. As a pitcher that needs to be a ground ball inducer, I’m very happy with his small number of walks through his first two starts; we’re used to watching Pelfrey breeze through four or five innings, and then one bad bounce throws off his concentration, and before you know it, he’s walked the bases are loaded (what I like to call the Oliver Perez effect). That’s not the case so far this year; I’ll take ground ball hits over surrendering walks any day.
Pelfrey takes the mound today for the 7-6 Mets, looking to help them end a three-game skid against the Giants at Citi Field. When he was drafted ninth overall in the 2005 amateur draft, the front office had visions of him being an ace; those visions are long gone, but he has the opportunity to show that he can be a stopper for this team. This is another statement start for Big Pelf, and he needs to once again prove to himself that he can consistently perform at a high level. Now is your time, Mike; make the most of it.