Our Year in Review series continues as we take a look at how Mike Pelfrey contributed to the Mets’ starting rotation in 2012. After having a disappointing 2011 campaign, going 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA, Pelfrey was determined to have a bounce back season and prove all of his critics wrong. Unfortunately for Pelfrey, his season was short-lived, as he only made three starts before receiving news that he would require season-ending Tommy John surgery. To add insult to injury, Pelfrey was off to a strong start — pitching to a 2.29 ERA — in his only three starts of 2012 before being shut down.
Once regarded as one of the best pitching prospects of his draft class, many scouts viewed Mike Pelfrey as a “can’t miss” athlete with a live-arm. At the time, Pelfrey was thought to be selected early in the draft. To his credit, he had the collegiate career that would support that claim: 33-7 record with a 2.20 ERA in three seasons for Wichita State University.
However, because of his high contract demands — thanks to his agent, Scott Boras — teams at the top of the draft decided to pass up on the opportunity to develop a potential ace. The New York Mets easily made their decision when they drafted him with the ninth overall selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. The New York Mets had so much faith that Pelfrey would develop into an ace in the future, they decided to sign him to a four-year contract worth 5.3 million in guaranteed money, along with an estimated signing bonus of 3.5 million.
Going into his seventh Major League season, Pelfrey was still trying to prove that he belonged in the Mets’ rotation. In six Major League seasons, Pelfrey started 146 games, and had compiled a career record of 50-54 with an ERA of 4.70. Though Pelfrey has shown flashes of being the type of pitcher New York originally hoped for when they first signed him, Pelfrey had been incapable of staying consistently efficient on the mound.
Pelfrey, 28, had his best year in 2010, winning 15 games with a 3.66 ERA while logging 204 innings pitched. Pelfrey credits his 2010 success to working extremely hard during that off-season, losing approximately 20 pounds — by eating healthy and doing more cardio — in an effort to have a bounce back season coming off a weak 2009 campaign, when he went 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA.
Looking to take his successful 2010 season as something to build on in 2011, Mets manager Terry Collins announced Mike Pelfrey as the number one starter of his rotation, during spring training — in the absence of Johan Santana, who missed the entire 2011 season — due to major elbow surgery. Unfortunately, Pelfrey only regressed in his development, having the worst season of his career, winning only seven games and losing 13 with an ERA of 4.74.
Pelfrey, a native of Witchita, Kansas, had never been to New York prior to being drafted by the Mets. With years of experience under his belt, Pelfrey is now well aware of the pressures of meeting expectations while playing under the bright lights of New York.
“You hear a lot of stuff,” said Pelfrey, during an interview with Brian Costa, of the Star-Ledger. “That’s one thing, when I came up, I used to read everything, and that’s one thing I’ve learned to back off of. I still do it every once in a while, but if you’re doing bad and your start reading that, “This guy is terrible,” you’ll start to believe it.”
The struggles Pelfrey endured during his career are not only limited to his performance as an professional athlete, but also, his personal life. In 2009, Pelfrey fell victim to the ponzi scheme operated by financier Allen Stanford. Pelfrey admitted that 99 percent of his money was invested with Mr. Stanford. As a result, those assets were frozen.
Going into the 2o12 season Mets manager Terry Collins named Pelfrey the number four starter in his rotation — with Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey — at the helm.
Projected role/Contract Status for 2013:
I don’t know if Pelfrey will even have a role in 2013 with the Mets It is a clear cut certainty that Pelfrey will be non-tendered after undergoing this surgery earlier in the season. Although reports indicate that he is progressing nicely with his rehab, it will be too much a financial risk to pay him upwards his $5.68 million he earned in 2012 because of his arbitration eligibility status.
I do think Alderson would love to bring Pelfrey back on a minor-league deal, however, it remains to be seen whether another team would offer Pelfrey a bigger, guaranteed deal. If another organization does so, I think it is safe to say Pelfrey’s New York Mets career has come to a disrupting end.