It’s almost unfair. To watch Pedro Feliciano work a pitchers mound against young Double-A batters is to watch a master craftsman applying his craft to a gaggle of apprentices. Feliciano defines what it means to pitch, not to throw a baseball.
The former workhorse of the major league Mets, the 36-year old lefthanded relief specialist is working to prove he still has something left, something that could matter at the big league level. So far, Feliciano’s Double-A audition is supporting evidence to argue his case.
In 12 appearances on the mound as a B-Met, Feliciano has been brilliant. Feliciano has pitched 12.1 innings allowing 2 runs giving him a sparkling 1.46 earned run average. Only 8 hits allowed and one base-on-balls leave the seasoned veteran with an improbable WHIP of 0.73.
It’s not the standard statistics alone that tell Feliciano’s Double-A story. It’s the high volume of missed bats, as the crafty lefty expertly mixes his pitches and nibbles, nibbles, nibbles around the perimeter of the strike zone. Watching Feliciano twist and turn hard swinging baseball youngsters into pretzels never fails to leave a smile.
The first time I saw Feliciano pitch as a B-Met his fastball never topped 81 mph. Even so, an array of pitches dipping as low as the mid 60’s kept batters off-balance, unable to make solid contact with the ball. My most recent time observing the pitching master work, his fastball had dialed up to as high as 86 and was coming in consistently at 83 and 84. That seemed to only add to Feliciano’s effectiveness.
Feliciano worked two innings in that outing, perhaps necessitated by several extra innings. A two- inning stint has to support Feliciano’s case that the major leagues might still be in his future.
In a day and age when power and speed are code words, it’s refreshing to see a seasoned veteran effectively mixing pitches and speeds and utilizing pitching smarts to get the job done.