Yes, it should. We all know that Mike Pelfrey was a big disappointment during the 2009 season. After seeing Pelfrey really turn things around midway through the 2008 season, I really expected him to take it to the next level, but Pelfrey did not and seemingly regressed.
Pelfrey’s final line of 10 wins and 5.03 ERA was not what Mets fans wanted to see, but I am here to tell you it wasn’t really as bad as it looked. We all know that Pelfrey is a ground ball pitcher. He gets his most of his outs by letting hitters hit the ball on the ground, and letting his infield defense do the job. In 2008 this wasn’t a problem because Jose Reyes was at shortstop ready to make a play. In 2009 he wasn’t there. Instead we saw a revolving door of players play shortstop from Alex Cora to Wilson Valdez to Fernando Tatis to Angel Berroa. Now Wilson Valdez is pretty good defensively, but probably not as good as Reyes. The other three I mentioned don’t even come close when putting their defensive skills up against the defensive skills of Jose Reyes. Reyes’ outstanding range in the field was a key reason for Pelfrey’s success in 2008 whether you noticed it or not.
Now let us look at this statistically in order to prove my point. Mike Pelfrey had an ERA of 5.03, but his FIP(Fielding Independent Pitching) was 4.39.
FIP attempts to take the fielding aspect out of a pitcher’s ERA. By looking at this we can conclude, that the Mets’ infield really did cost Mike Pelfrey. This shows us that the defensively poor shortstops along with the declining range of Luis Castillo led to a ballooning in Pelfrey’s ERA. It is not that the Mets’ infield made all that many errors, but without Reyes the range of the middle infield decreased. This allowed more ground balls to make it to the outfield as base hits.
Pelfrey’s k/9 also rose last season. Now many would say this isn’t a bad thing, but this shows he may have lost confidence in his infield defense all together. This would account for why he wasn’t getting the ball down last season, he was no longer trying as hard to get ground balls. This led to an increase in the amount of home runs he gave up. His HR/9 rose from .54 in 2008 to .88 in 2009. And this also led to an increase in the amount of walks yielded by Pelfrey. His BB/9 went from 2.87 in 2008 to 3.22 in 2009.
With Jose Reyes at shortstop and hopefully a determined Luis Castillo, Mike Pelfrey will find himself able to trust his infield defense again. With this trust in his infield, Pelfrey will be able to find success by getting ground ball outs. Hopefully we will once again see what we saw in late 2008. Maybe we will even see Mike Pelfrey take his game to the next level.