Perhaps as crucial as adding Johan Santana was to the Mets pitching staff over the off-season, was general manager Omar Minaya’s decision to retain Mike Pelfrey. After all, at the time of the deal he was the most developed young pitcher the organization had to speak of. Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey possessed promise, but were not deemed to be at the talent level of Pelfrey at the present time and probably not ever.
Issues concerning Pelfrey’s concentration and mental makeup were questioned. Rightfully so, a man who was a top draft pick, built with a 6’7” frame and a 95mph heater was not intimidating anyone that graced the batters box, he was working hard to be dubbed “soft.” The Wichita State product seemingly fell behind in every count, and failed to hammer the bottom of the strike zone with his fast ball, the very element in his repertoire that is regarded to be his bread and butter. Confusion and disgust was evident every time he toed the rubber, maybe it was just another chapter in the long saga of hyped Mets prospects to fall flat on their face.
Last night in the Mets 8-2 triumph over Philadelphia, Pelfrey did what it took him nearly six months to do in 2007, get a win. Coming off a solid September last season which to many fans went unnoticed because of the epic collapse the team endured, but we’re not going to go back down that road again. I closed that book a long time ago, and would prefer to never revisit its contents.
Following an utterly awful spring training that many felt would warrant him opening his campaign in New Orleans, Pelfrey was stellar in his five inning season debut. I wouldn’t call any game in April a desperation game, but if nothing else, this was a game the Mets absolutely needed to have. Pelfrey seized the opportunity, and for the very first time in his major league career, appeared to be relaxed and in a rhythm. The comfort level was evident after the first six hitters that came to bat against Pelf were sat down in order. Full counts from 07 now transformed into 1-2 counts. Pitches that were fly balls to the warning track were slow rollers to the middle infield.
The lower inside section of the zone was finally being pounded with a consistent 92-93mph fastball, which generated a hefty number of ground balls for the 24 year-old. There was a different pitcher out there. Pelfrey worked himself into a few minor jams, but he was never shaken at the core, he was mature, no longer frustrated, something that the Shea fans have never grown accustomed to seeing.It’s only one game in the first week of the season, but Mike Pelfrey is going to be a very pivotal figure in the Mets script for a championship this season. Maybe the top of the rotation, groundball generating extraordinaire has finally stormed onto the scene.
All things considered, Pelfrey was rushed to the big leagues; he had no business being up in previous seasons. Toying with his role and demoting and promoting him like a yo-yo from New Orleans to New York was not the answer in the young right handers development. He was mishandled to the point where even he was not certain when or where he would pitch again. Now with El Duque on the shelf (what a shock,) Pelfrey is aware the job is his, and that two bad starts is not going to cost him his spot. He is here to stay, and if Wednesday nights start is any indication, it will be for a long time here in Flushing.