Inside Mr. Met's Head

April 21, 2010 8:18 PM

Is Mike Pelfrey for Real?

mike-pelfrey.jpgAn early bright spot of this season thus far has been the exciting resurgence of Mike Pelfrey. The Mets' first round draft pick in 2005, Pelfrey has always appeared somewhat lost on the mound. From the countless balks to the occasional wildness, Pelfrey has always had the physical stuff to be a good pitcher (the dude is 6'7) but it seemed as though his issue was some sort of a mental block. The great Mets blog Faith and Fear in Flushing talked about him being a headcase, saying that he would tip his pitches by muttering (either intentionally or unintentionally) what the next pitch would be. His regression in 2009 was extremely worrisome and many were curious if Big Pelf would be able to rebound and finally reach his potential.

It looks pretty good so far this year on a basic level. 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA. How about his peripherals? His velocity is down to 91 MPH, all the way down from 94 in 2007. All of his other pitches are around the same velocity so that's encouraging. Normally, I'd be concerned about velocity dropping that substantially but his fastball has a ton of movement. According to pitchFX, his vertical movement has increased to 9.1 from 6.5 last season which is excellent and extremely encouraging. Movement on a fastball is much more important than speed sometimes and obviously Pelfrey is reaping the benefits of that. 

His K/9 has increased to 6.86 which is higher than his career average and hasn't given up a home run yet. He hasn't walked an absurd amount of people, although it might be something to be careful of. His xFIP is at 3.87, 3 points higher than his ERA but even that's pretty respectable. His peripheral statistics show that yes, he will regress. One thing that does shoot up as a warning sign though is an extremely low BABIP -- .231. He's been very lucky so far and that's what's keeping his ERA so low. He's also left 90% of batters on base -- a JA Happ-ian LOB%. At the same time, though, everyone knows that there's a less than zero chance that Pelfrey finishes the season with a 0.86 ERA. If his ERA normalizes to where his xFIP is I'd take that. It would make him the second best pitcher on the team.

All things considered, I think Pelfrey is going to have a very good year this year. I don't think it will be a monster year like his blistering start so far has indicated but he's going to be solid. As long as he can keep his K/9 up he can minimize the damage that will inevitably happen. I don't think it's going to be a repeat of last year considering the motion on his fastball. His regression won't hurt too badly and that's very encouraging. 

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