Last night was just another example of Mike Pelfrey being Mike Pelfrey. After cruising through the San Diego lineup for the first five innings allowing just one run, it all came crashing down on the right-hander in the sixth. The 27-year-old allowed three runs on four sharply hit balls and a sac fly. The Amazin’s so called “ace” left after 6 1/3 yielding 9 hits, allowing 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, while striking out 4, against a lackluster Padres lineup. Did I mention the Mets gave Pelfrey a 4-1 lead, but as is frequently the case with Pelfrey, he found a way to give that lead up.
Now, to me, the biggest difference between the great pitchers or even good pitchers and the mediocre ones is their ability to hold down the fort when given leads. In Pelfrey’s case he just hasn’t demonstrated the killer instinct you’d like to see from a number 1 or 2 type starter and has trouble controlling the damage, turning minimal innings into game breaking innings. When is it time to say enough is enough already? This is now Mike Pelfrey’s fourth full season in the rotation, and I’m tried of hearing the same old excuses again and again.
Besides the fact that Pelfrey just hasn’t been able to figure it out mentally, the most alarming thing to me more than anything else, has been the mental lapses we’ve seen from Mike throughout his career – the implosions. This is a guy who balked three times in a game last year against San Francisco, yes, that’s right - three times. This is also the same guy who struggles as much as any pitcher in baseball when it comes to pitching with runners on base.
Going back to last night’s performance, with Jesus Guzman on first base and Pelfrey standing on the rubber, Guzman broke early for second, and instead of stepping off and throwing to second, Pelfrey turned and fired a bullet to Lucas Duda at first, allowing Guzman to slide in safely with a stolen base. The game just seems to completely stop for Pelfrey with runners on base, he’s always going to his cap, wiping his brow, and who could ever forget the infamous mouth guard Pelfrey grinded his teeth on during his early years.
The benchmark in which many young starting pitchers are measured is through their first 100 career decisions. Since being inserted as a regular into the Met rotation in 2008, the Wichita State alum is just 49-50 in 99 career decisions with a pedestrian 4.34 ERA.
When the Mets drafted Pelfrey back in 2005 he was envisioned as a future ace of the Mets rotation, considering he was a top 10 pick after all. At this point I just have no hope for the Ohio native. GM Sandy Alderson is going to have to realize Mike Pelfrey is what Mike Pelfrey’s numbers say he is, which is a number 4 or 5 starter at best. Whether that is as a New York Met or not remains to be seen. Pelfrey will be arbitration eligible at the end of the year, and it’s expected that the tall right hander will get a pay raise from his $3.93 million number from this season to somewhere between $5 and $6 million for 2012.
It’s time to face reality and face facts, this is what Mike Pelfrey is and we have to live with it for the time being.