Remember in the classic baseball movie Major League 2, when Charlie Sheen’s character, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, had the hilarious habit of naming and re-naming each of the pitches in his arsenal? Including the new pitch he was working on that spring? Maybe Mike Pelfrey should consider naming his pitches beginning with his sinker, which I now dub ”The Stinker”.
Once again Mike Pelfrey took the mound for his scheduled start, and much like his other four spring starts, he delivered a a real stinkeroo. I mean it was a lousy effort… I’m talking wasted pitches, balls grooved down the middle, hits galore, and basically a 106 pitch display of the black clouds and stormy days heading our way in 2010.
Pelfrey pitched 5 2/3 innings against a St. Louis Cardinals team that torched him for six runs on twelve hits including three homeruns. He is allowing homeruns at an alarming rate with seven longballs in his last two starts. Pelfrey has allowed 12 runs in his last 10 1/3 innings. His spring ERA now stands at 7.97 with a 1.77 WHIP.
Much like his lousy effort against the Nationals last week, Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen were quick to the microphones and had plenty of excuses for Pelfrey’s poor start, citing everything from the heat, the wind, a new pitch, etc.
They both say they were pleased, but I also bet they were deeply concerned whether they willingly admitted to it or not.
The Mets number two starter has long been billed as a crafty sinker-baller who can rear back and bring it home with a 95 mph fastball. That myth is quickly fading.
You didn’t need a trained eye to see that almost all of Pelfrey’s offerings were straight, down the middle and up. Just perfect for a hitter to lay into them and send them screeching for a long ride out of the park. His new pitch which was supposed to make him more effective, has only allowed him to double an already alarming homerun rate which has now risen four straight years.
It’s hard to believe that the now 26-year old, former first rounder, is still struggling and searching to find a groove when you consider his perfect six foot/seven inch frame and impressive fastball. He should be an intimidating presence on the mound, but Pelfrey scares nobody these days and in fact never really has. His reluctance to pitch inside and his inability to keep his pitches down will continue to be his downfall, and instead of getting praise from pitching coach Dan Warthen, what Pelfrey really needs is a swift kick in the pants.
That said, the Mets can make all the excuses they want for their triumvirate of Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine. I never saw a team so quick to give their players such an easy way out for their poor performances in my life. One look at all the boxscores across the league and you can see that many of the other #2-3 starters in the league are already in mid season form. Compare that to the Mets starters who are getting shelled each time out, but lauded with praise from their coaches and manager instead of getting some constructive criticism. Built in excuses… that’s Warthen’s biggest contribution as pitching coach thus far…
So for all of you eternal optimists out there, don’t worry, it’s just spring training, nevermind the league worst ERA’s, and pay no attention to the orange and blue elephant in the corner. Our starting pitchers are all just fine, they’re just working things out, and they are all the victims of a stiff March wind that is out to get them.