Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his first major league home run and Daniel Murphy made two key plays in the ninth inning but the big story from Monday night was the performance of Mike Pelfrey. At first glance that might seem odd, as Pelfrey gave up 10 hits and three runs and needed help to finish six innings. But it was still an encouraging outing from a guy that the Mets need a big year from if they have any hope of challenging for a playoff spot.

Pelfrey was brutal through most of Spring Training before posting solid starts his last two outings. Still, he finished with a 7.62 ERA, which had many fans calling for the team to release him, especially once they found out that the club would not have to pay him the full value of his contract.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and Pelfrey took the mound in the fourth game of the season. The game didn’t start well for either Pelfrey or the Mets, and they were down for the first time all season. After allowing two runs in the third inning, the Mets were on the wrong end of a 3-0 score. But Pelfrey added 2.2 scoreless innings and the Mets offense rallied to tie the game by the time he departed.

That’s all well and good, you might think, but where’s the good news?

According to Brooks Baseball, Pelfrey threw 50 sinkers with an average speed of 93.63 for the game. If Pelfrey is going to establish himself as an above-average pitcher, the only way he can do that is by pounding hitters with his sinker, keeping the ball in the park and getting lots of ground ball outs. Both the number of sinkers he threw (50 of 104) and the velocity are encouraging signs for his success.

Pelfrey tied a career-high with eight strikeouts, with five of those coming via the sinker, usually not thought of as a great strikeout pitch. He recorded two other whiffs with his slider and one compliments of his four-seam fastball.

When batters did hit the ball, 58.8 percent of them were ground balls. Pelfrey’s batted ball breakdown was as follows:

GB – 10
FB – 4
LD – 3

That’s exactly the type of breakdown Pelfrey needs to be successful. Yes the Nationals got 10 hits in the game. They also had a .556 BABIP which simply will not hold up over the long haul. Mets fans should be ecstatic about this performance.

Pelfrey got grounders, he got strikeouts, he did not give up a HR and he allowed just one walk. I will gladly sign on the dotted line for this type of performance for the rest of the year.

And it would be a giant oversight not to mention Pelfrey’s performance with the bat. While he’s not the worst-hitting pitcher in Mets’ history (hi Mark Clark), Pelfrey came in with a .097/.146/.112 slash line in 297 PA. So it was quite a shock when he played a key role in the Mets’ first run. Pelfrey led off the third inning with a double and came around to score on a single to left by David Wright. It was just the fifth double of Pelfrey’s MLB career.

It was great to see Johan Santana give a strong first start. It was fun to see Jonathon Niese challenge for a no-hitter. But Pelfrey’s performance last night might have been the most important pitching outing we have seen for the Mets in the young season. Those who look past his BABIP-driven ERA will see that this was everything we need to see for Pelfrey to be a successful pitcher in 2012.

5 comments on “Mike Pelfrey had an outstanding game last night, really

  • Dan Stack

    He may labor with the sinker, but as long as he keeps the ball down, good things could follow.

  • Chris F

    I have stewed over this article for a week now, and well, I guess I can no longer stew!

    The portrait of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Pelf is painted in a bigger way than stats alone. I guess I dont care how fast his sinker is. He pitches from behind constantly. The inconsistency is truly staggering, and it leads to utter chaos out there for the team. I shutter when he takes the mound. And the endless hits are exasperating. I love a lot about what Ive seen this year, but Pelf is not one of them. Here we are in Philly looking at a sweep, and its top 2– and 5 hits are already in the books. He is a lousy pitcher. He throws balls, or strikes that a Little Leaguer can hit. I cant believe he is still here.

    Frustration vented.

    Frustration not aimed at you Brian…I get the numbers!


    • Metsense

      I am hoping that Pelfry has a good first half, that Young is ready to take his spot in July, and they can trade Pelfry for something decent. Pelfry should not be in the Mets 2013 plans under any circumstances for all the reasons you state Chris.

      • Astaroth

        Pelf catches hell, in part, bsceuae he’s the only healthy name left in the rotation. Santana’s on the shelf, John Maine is long gone I don’t think fans are used to the thought of Dillon Gee, Jon Neise, and R A Dickey as the top three starters on the New York Mets. Pelf’s 2011 isn’t all that great, but if he was a rookie FA named Jim Miller or something, well, we could deal with that, right? But he’s the ace of the staff with Santana out, so people subconsciously expect him to roll up eight K’s a night and post a Halladian ERA.

    • Brian Joura

      No worries Chris – thanks as always for reading and commenting!

      Outing #2 wasn’t as good as the first but 14 ground balls compared to 2 fly balls is still very nice. The bad part were the line drives (7) and strikeouts (2).

      Maybe you should treat him like I used to treat Sid Fernandez. I hated watching him pitch and decided the best thing was to just look at his line in the box score the next day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 100 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here