Is Mike Pelfrey Tipping His Pitches?

An article by posted on March 31, 2010

Some pitchers just don’t have it.  You can tell from the first inning you ever see them throw.  Some pitchers look dominant from day one and besides some growing pains, you always feel like it will all click eventually.  Then there is Mike Pelfrey.

We have all heard about how filthy Big Pelf’s stuff is.  How unhittable his “bowling ball sinker” can be, etc etc.  So why isn’t he dominating after 80 ML starts?  Why is he still having trouble putting hitters away? I noticed something fairly obvious in his last spring training start, and if what I saw is true, there is still hope.  However if I’m wrong, I can’t sincerely see, how Mike Pelfrey will ever become a bona fide frontline starting pitcher.

I think Mike is tipping his pitches.  Now there are two ways to tip pitches, one is where something obvious happens like you spread your glove differently for breaking pitches, one guy notices and soon the entire opposing team knows.  Then there is the way that isn’t quite tangible.  No one player can pick it out, but somehow they “feel” what’s coming. I think Mike Pelfrey suffers from a case of the latter.  Here’s my proof.

One can plainly see how filthy his sinker is, especially when it hits 94-95 on the gun.  What I saw in his last ST start, was various players continuously fouling of nasty 94 mph sinkers in… Then fouling off some solid sliders out…IN THE SAME A-BAT!  How is this possible?  I don’t think it is, unless the hitters knew what was coming. 

In one at-bat against Ryan Ludwick, a solid but unspectacular hitter, I saw Ryan foul of some insanely filthy 2 strike pitches with utter confidence, even breaking balls….until the point that Pelf grooved a slider and Ludwick jumped on it.  This simply does not happen to guys with good stuff, especially in Spring Training.  I realized this happens to big Pelf way too often, even when he is “on.”

We have seen this with John Maine as well; the difference is that Maine has a sneaky, but straight fastball, that doesn’t fool anyone. Pelfrey’s ball moves and bores.  No scout can tell me that Ryan Ludwick should have such little problem continuously fighting off perfectly located sinkers, splitters, and sliders like that.  He looked like a hitter who knew what was coming, and there is only one hitter in baseball that can do this on a regular basis, who also happens to be on the Cardinals.

If I am wrong, Pelfrey will simply never be anywhere near the #2 he is projected to be right now.  If I am wrong, his stuff is a TV optical illusion and a hype lie perpetrated by various scouts and officials.  If I am wrong; we are in deeper trouble than we all think we are this season.  If Mike Pelfrey pitches less than 180 innings this year the Mets do not compete.

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