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Pelfrey strives to become an "actual pitcher"

Mar 17, 2010, 8:59 PM EDT

Mike Pelfrey.jpgWednesday has been an incredibly busy day on the MLB news front, so much so that one of my favorite quotes of the afternoon got lost among the abundance of noise.

Here’s Mike Pelfrey, as quoted by Anthony DiComo of, after allowing one run on four hits over four innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday:

“I think one day I’d like to become an actual pitcher.”

Though he was speaking in jest, there’s a real kernel of truth in there. The 26-year-old right-hander was recently told by pitching coach Dan Warthen to rely less on his sinker, his primary pitch. In turn, Pelfrey estimates than more than half of the 66 pitches he threw on Wednesday were his secondary offerings  — curveball, slider and splitter.

Of course, Pelfrey has long been praised for his sinker, but while the pitch was a real weapon for him in 2008, he turned in a negative run value with the pitch last season, according to Fangraphs.

Pelfrey was 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA last season, garnering the reputation as a headcase on the bump thanks to six balks, but it probably didn’t help that someone who induced groundballs 50.1 percent of the time had one of baseball’s worst defenses behind him. Thus, we shouldn’t be too surprised to see his batting average on balls (or BABIP) in play go up nearly 20 points to .321 and his strand rate fall to 66.7 percent.

Sure, I understand that news about pitchers tinkering with their arsenals is typical spring training fodder. I get that. I really do. But for a rotation in need of a reliable arm behind Johan Santana, the prospect of Pelfrey becoming less predictable to opposing batters just became an intriguing storyline to track this season. Still, nothing can save him from Luis Castillo patrolling second base.

  1. enough already - Mar 18, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    That’s a little unfair to Luis Castillo. He’s not what he used to be but he does, after all, have 3 gold gloves.

  2. TommyB - Mar 18, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    To be fair, the dropped pop up against the Yankees notwithstanding, Luis Castillo was not the problem last year offensively or defensively. It’s not his fault Omar felt the need to pay him twice what he was worth in years and annual salary. I do agree that Pelfrey should be better with Reyes (Thyroid permitting) instead of Cora behind him. Most of New York (fans and writers) have little faith in Big Pel which is typical lack of patience for young pitchers in this city. He has two big league seasons and people talk like he is a bust. Though I agree this is a critical year as most pitchers make the jump in year 3 and Mets are in dire need of 30 plus starts and a winning record out of him. I have faith in Big Pel. I say he wins 15+ games and has a 4 ERA (maybe a hair under 4 even).

  3. BC - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    I’d sign up for 15 wins and a 4 ERA in a second from Pelfrey. Say you get 16 or 17 from Santana and 12 or 13 from Maine… that’s the only way my guys will come close to sniffing the wild card. Unfortunately my predictions would be Pelfrey-no, Santana-yes, Maine-no. Have a nice 78-84 season, guys.

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