New York Mets News

Will The Real Mike Pelfrey Please Stand Up

By Adam Garnett

I am a couple of days late with this discussion, but considering the enigma that is Mike Pelfrey, I wanted to delve in a little bit. How frustrating is it to watch this guy? My goodness. Performances like Sunday against the Cubs (8 IP, 5H, 1BB, 5K) make you salivate at the prospects of the 6’7″ Wichita St. product being a dominant #2 starter for years to come behind Johan Santana. Pelfrey was dominant against a pretty powerful Cubs lineup and more importantly, he seemed to have his head together the entire eight innings.

That has been the knock on Big Mike. The existence of his 95-MPH fastball and wicked sinker has never been the issue. His physical tools scream, “Future Ace Here!”. It is his mental fortitude and fidgety demeanor on the mound that make Mets fans almost squeamish when they watch him and question whether he will ever fulfill his immense potential. How many times this season has he looked unhittable over the first four innings and then just completely lost it in the fifth inning?

It seems once he gets presented with a little adversity, such as a few runners on base with less that two outs, his focus and execution of his pitches and location go out the window. Next time Pelfrey is on the mound, watch his body language and movements closely when he is forced to pitch from the stretch. I know it is something that has been well documented this season and something that the coaches have addressed with him, but it doesn’t appear like he has taken big enough strides to remedy the issues he has had. Despite, all of this, Pelfrey doesn’t seem to lack in belief in his abilities.

“I’m comfortable with myself. I know that I haven’t been what people have expected, but I have higher expectations for myself than anybody else has,” Pelfrey said following Sunday’s performance. “When people say stuff people say other things, I don’t care. That stuff doesn’t bother me. I am comfortable with who I am and I am comfortable what I can do. I haven’t been great this year. That is the bottom line. But I am going to be better.”

On one hand, it is good to see that Pelfrey is not demoralized by his up-and-down performance this season. The guy clearly knows he has not lived up to lofty expectations and more importatntly he understands why the expectations exist as they do. You can’t teach the talent and phsyical tools he possesses. Hell, we should in fact give him some props for being one of a handful of Mets regulars who hasn’t missed significant time with injury this year. Being able to stay healthy is a testament to any athlete and Pelfrey has shown the ability to do that in his short time in the majors.

On the other hand, it has been absolute torture watching Pelfrey pitch at times this season. There is nothing worse that watching a supremely gifted athlete tease you with his talents and leave you asking, “What if?”.

I say, don’t you dare give up on Mike Pelfrey for one, because the Mets are going to need him to become a stalwart as their #2 starter, at least as far as next year is concerned. There are no sexy free agent arms to get excited about and don’t go thinking the Wilpons would have spent big money on one anyway if one were indeed there to be had. The other reason to have faith in Big Pelf is because as we have seen many times in sports, the maturing process, especially with young pitchers takes some time in most cases (Not everyone is Doc Gooden, Roger Clemens or Tim Lincecum). Something is liable to just “click” inside of him and then there is no telling what sort of success may follow.