he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Pelfrey Named Fifth Starterh

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pelfrey Named Fifth Starter

Entering Spring Training the Mets had a plethora of options for the fifth starter job. Alay Soler was released, Phil Humber and Jason Vargas were optioned to AAA, and Chan Ho Park and Aaron Sele were demoted to the bullpen. That leaves the Mets best pitching prospect, Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey was terrific this spring pitching to a 2.84 era over 19 innings. On top of that Pelfrey gave up only one home run. If you project out how many home runs the 6'7" right hander will give up over 200 innings if he keeps the same ip:hr ratio you get eleven. The Yankees best pitch, Chien Ming Wang, a groundball expert allowed 12 home runs in 2006. Also, the NL Cy Young Winner, Brandon Webb, allowed 15 home runs. In fact, if Pelfrey allowed eleven home runs last year over 200 innings he would have led all of baseball in least home runs allowed. Obviously it is impossible to suggest Pelfrey will allow only eleven home runs this year, or to even sugges that he will be as good as Brandon Webb or Wang. Nevertheless, it certainly is a good sign to see Pelfrey's name involved with some of the better pitchers in the game. Pelfrey is truly a groundball machine. Even on Sunday when he allowed four runs over five innings against the Astros the majority of the six hits Pelfrey allowed were groundballs that found holes.

No matter how easy it is to get caught up in how good Pelfrey may be this year, you also must realize that he is 23 and a rookie. He may also be a victim of having Spring Training stats that hide how good someone actually is. Last year Brian Bannister won the fifth spot in the Mets rotation. In fact, Bannister's ST in 2006 is similar to Pelfrey's this year. Bannister also pitched 19 innings, three of the games he started and two of them were in relief, much like Pelfrey. Bannister had an unbelievable .95 era in his 19 innings displaying immaculate control during those innings. Bannister preceded to enter the 2006 MLB season and barely be able to throw strikes. Despite pitching like Hudini Bannister was very lucky in his time in the majors before his hamstring injury pretty much ended his season. Bannister was dealt in the offseason for reliever Ambiorix Burgos.

In 2005 the Mets had a pitcher with an even better spring training who fizzled out in the majors. Matt Ginter pitched 14 straight scoreless innings for the Mets. Ginter went on to get dealt at the end of spring training and pitch only 14 games in 2005 with the Tigers. Ginter had a dreadful 6.17 era in those 14 games. Ginter hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005, and he has since latched on with the Pirates and has not even been able to appear in a spring training game with the lowly Pirates.

Again, just because Pelfrey had a great spring does not mean he will be great in the regular season, despite his potential. The same can be said about Joe Smith, although his sidearming ability should keep him in the majors at least for this season, due to nobody knowing how good he is. Keep an eye on Pelfrey and don't be surprised if he is great, but also don't be surprised if he struggles in the majors this year.


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