If a lost season is all about searching for answers the Mets are still asking questions when it comes to Mike Pelfrey, whose only consistent aspect of his game is running up his pitches to 100 by the fifth inning.
Last season, which began under pitching coach Rick Peterson and ended under Dan Warthen, Pelfrey showed breakout signs going 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA. He explained he was a fastball pitcher and became more aggressive in challenging hitters with that pitch and not fooling around with his secondary pitches when he needed an out. His pitches had enough movement to where a pitch down the middle could move to the corners.
Last night’s loss was just another in a long line of disappointing performances. He was consistently behind in the count, and as his habit, would let one inning get away from him. Given a walk, or an error, or a bad call, Pelfrey lets it stay with him and his concentration would wander. Big innings find him frequently.
All those balks are an indication of a lack of focus.
Pelfrey is 9-10 with a 5.03 ERA, and while it is possible to equal last season’s mark it wouldn’t be indicative of his year. In 150 1/3 innings, hitters are batting .288 against him and he has given up 233 baserunners. Sixth of them have been walks, compared to 64 all last year. Pelfrey gave up 86 runs this year; already he has allowed 91. He has pitched like a No. 5 starter.
Yet, there are times he seems untouchable. There are games when you start to think he’s turned the corner, but in the next one runs into a brick wall.
He does sound an awful like Oliver Perez.
We must remember, Pelfrey hasn’t taken the progressive road to the major leagues. He’s been force fed to a large degree and is learning on the job. There’s enough talent there to where the Mets shouldn’t give up on him. I was glad he wasn’t sent to Minnesota in the package for Johan Santana.
I don’t know to the degree having two pitching coaches has hampered his development, or if that’s a moot point. Pelfrey hasn’t gone off on his coaches.
At his present rate Pelfrey won’t come close to the 200 innings he threw last season. But, it has been largely due to ineffectiveness than injury.
As the Mets prepare for next season, Pelfrey is one of the few givens on the staff as in he’ll be back. However, the Mets need to see development in 2010. If not, he’ll go from a No. 2 to a No. 4 in a heartbeat, and not soon after that a No. 5 to just another flameout bust.
Pelfrey is young, but he’s also been around to where he knows he must show something soon.