Freshly armed with a $4 million contract to avoid arbitration, Mike Pelfrey said this morning he welcomes the ace role created by the absence of Johan Santana.
“I embrace it,” Pelfrey said this morning on WFAN. “I want to go out there and lead by example. I’ll be out there every fifth day.”
Pelfrey won 15 games last season after a sluggish spring training. However, with the expectations high, Pelfrey didn’t panic in the spring, the first sign last year of his growing maturity on the mound. He said he wasn’t worried about the spring becoming a prelude to the season.
“I felt like I was working on things,” Pelfrey said. “I was working on the split. I was getting better every time out there.”
A knock on Pelfrey in previous years was his inability to finish off hitters and innings by losing focus. Save a horrid July, he had tunnel vision in 2010. With Santana out and questions throughout the rotation, Pelfrey should be able to take another step this summer. The Mets sure think so, which is why they rewarded him with the contract.
Should Pelfrey continue to improve it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mets try to get an extension done next winter. Pelfrey is arbitration eligible next year.
NOTE: I will be at Citi Field today for a Mets function and will post again this afternoon.