Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Mike Pelfrey’ Category

Catching Up: The Week That Was

Posted by JD on May 5, 2011

A lot has happened since I last posted. The Mets dropped two out of three in Philly and then returned home to drop two out of three to San Francisco. Tough stretch, but not without its positives:

  • With the exception of the opener in Philly, the Mets were “in” every game. Citing moral victories is damning with faint praise, but they were facing Cy Young-caliber pitchers in three of those games (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Tim Lincecum).
  • Carlos Beltran has been on fire. His slash line over the past six games? Try .333/.429/.708 (in 28 plate appearances) for a ridiculous 1.137 OPS. Three doubles, two home runs, and four walks will do that for you. And for you trivia buffs, Beltran’s home run today gave him 1,443 total bases in 2,886 at-bats with the Mets. That means his slugging percentage with the team sits at a very neat .500 (good for sixth all time among the franchise’s qualifying batters, narrowly falling short of John Olerud’s .501). That will change the next time he comes to bat, but round numbers are neat.
  • Quality starts. The Mets received them from Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, Chris Young and Chris Capuano during the two series (t0o be fair, Pelfrey had a decidedly non-quality start in the series opener in Philly). The starting rotation has a long way to go before it’s out of the woods, but there were some positive signs this week.
  • Ronny Paulino finally arrived and, as the saying goes “he arrived in ill humor,” going 5 for 7 and driving in the winning run in extra innings on Sunday night. For what it’s worth, 27 other Mets have had as many as five hits in a game but Paulino is the first to do it in his debut with the Mets. So whatever else happens, he’ll always have his place in Mets history.

It may seem silly to you that I chose to focus on these four items when the Mets just lost four of their last six. I get that. They’re 13-18 and in last place, and their roster is still full of holes. There’s no reason to expect them to play all that much better. Yet, I find them to be much more compelling than last year’s group and I remain optimistic that they’ll claw their way back into contention for a Wild Card berth. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s no rational reason for me to believe this. But I can’t help feeling that if they click, if they all perform at their career norms at the same time, they can be relevant in 2011. There’s still time, however fleeting it may be.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Something Nice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Something Nice, 4/22/11

Posted by JD on April 23, 2011

Man, it’s so tempting to just say “the Mets win!” If the whole point of these posts is to spread positive feelings, I’d guess we really shouldn’t have to get much further than that. And I while I may just drop these posts in the future when the Mets win, there was something about tonight’s win that deserves extra recognition: Mike Pelfrey’s first quality start.

Pelfrey has struggled mightily this season. He started four games (all losses for the Mets) and never recorded more than 16 outs in any of them. He was forced to assume the “Number One Starter/Staff Ace” title with Johan Santana sidelined and, if that wasn’t enough, the media (and plenty of fans) added injury to insult by focusing on the coincidental (and, of course, unfortunate) passing of Harvey Dorfman (a psychologist that Pelfrey frequently consulted), strongly implying that Pelfrey’s mental health was in question. It was a tough stretch for Big Pelf, maybe the toughest he’s faced in his tenure with the Mets.

That’s why tonight’s win was so sweet: Pelfrey fought his way through seven innings, allowing only five hits, two hits, and one run. And, as hard as this may be to believe, I definitely saw him hit 94 and 95 on the Citi Field radar gun in the top of the second. It was a solid showing, and I was happy for Pelfrey that it happened in front of the Citi Field faithful.

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Will the 2011 Rotation Include Pat Misch?

Posted by JD on November 29, 2010

It’s starting to look like it might (at least to me, anyway). Consider the rotation as it stands today: with Johan Santana recovering from surgery to start the season, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese are the only established major league starters on the roster. In some ways, referring to this group as “established” is being kind: they each have questions to answer in 2011). Pelfrey can be solid (if unspectacular), but has been prone to extended streaks where he struggles to be average. Can he be more consistent next year? R.A. Dickey was a revelation this season, but he’s 36 and the 174 innings he pitched last season were a career high. Can he do it again? 2010 was Jon Niese’s first full season, and he’s struggled with injuries the past two season. Can he stay healthy long enough to contribute?

That being said, those three will anchor the rotation next season. John Maine has most likely played his last game with the team: I expect him to be non-tendered this week. Dillon Gee will be given a chance to win a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, as will Misch and probably Tobi Stoner. Misch is easily the most established (there’s that word again, used even more generously here) of the three, which can’t hurt. Add in Sandy Alderson’s (and Terry Collins’) comments about not wanting to rush prospects to the majors and that’s about it for in-house candidates.

There are, of course, outside candidates. Joe Janish of Mets Today put together a list of signable (read: not Cliff Lee) free agent pitchers last week, focusing on the risk/reward aspect of each. Having just returned from a trip to Atlantic City, I find some of these gambles attractive, particularly Chris Young. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing one of them to a one-year deal and hoping for the best, but I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ve read in many places that the Mets’ off-season budget may be limited to $5 million. If that’s the case, these players may not fit in the Mets’ budget (even accounting for the discount generated by their injury histories). I mean, it could happen, but should the Mets really gamble on a pitcher with a history of injuries when their budget is so limited?

The next few days will see a number of pitchers hit free agency as the December 2nd non-tender deadline approaches. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of non-tender candidates. While there are some interesting names for the bullpen, the starting pitchers leave something to be desired. I’ve always liked Brian Bannister and he might benefit from making half his starts at Citi Field, but he’s always struggled with major league hitters and he’s been injury prone recently, too. I wouldn’t have taken a shot at Zach Duke before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, making that moot anyway. Jeff Karstens? Kyle Davies? I guess, at the right price. But it’s debatable whether their better than Misch or not.

Acquiring a starter via a trade is also a possibility. The Mets could possibly trade Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran (Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka might make some sense, I guess). Personally, I remain convinced that the Mets should refrain from trading either of those players until June, at the earliest. Their value is what it once was, but there’s still a reasonable chance that they can recapture most of it: it simply makes no sense to move them now. We’ll see.

In an effort to be fair to every candidate, I have to mention that Oliver Perez currently has a 10-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts in the Mexican Winter League. Whatever.

So, there you have it: based on the known available options (and their costs), Pat Misch will very likely be the fifth (or possibly even the fourth) starter in the rotation next year. Bill James predicts Misch’s 2011 season as: 23 games (12 starts), 75.0 innings pitched, 82 hits, 50 strikeouts and 18 walks (2.78 K/BB ration) for a 4.20 ERA (4.19 FIP). Obviously, the counting numbers would be higher if Misch won the job out of spring training, but a 4.20/4.19 ERA/FIP for less than $1 million isn’t that bad. It’s less than optimal, but budget constraints make it one of the more plausible options available.

Posted in Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Offseason Moves, Oliver Perez, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The Rotation After Two Turns

Posted by JD on April 17, 2010

Pelfrey on the mound last Friday

Raise your hand if you thought Oliver Perez would have a better start than Johan Santana.

The Untouchable: Yes, it was his second-worst start as a Met (if you’re anything like me, you’ve obliterated this disaster from your memory), but this Johan Santana we’re talking about. I’m not about to let one bad start knock the rose-colored glasses off my face. He’s still rounding into shape coming off of surgery, so I’ll give him a pass. But it would be nice to see him go more than six innings today, especially coming off of last night’s loss.

Trending Up: Mike Pelfrey had a great start in Colorado, building off his debut against the Nationals (pictured above). No penalty laps around the parking lot this trip: Pelfrey became the first Met starter to pitch into the seventh inning on Thursday. While he did balk, he also struck out six without issuing a single walk. It’s early and I don’t want to get carried away, but there’s a lot to like about Pelfrey’s start so far.

Positive Vibes: Speaking of not getting carried away: Oliver Perez, everyone! He threw 6 and 1/3 shutout innings against the Cardinals before getting lifted (he got tagged with a run thanks to the combined efforts of Fernando Nieve and Raul Valdes). It’s strange to say, but I think he got pulled early. Still, there’s plenty to build on here.

The same could be be said for Jon Niese. He got touched up a bit in his last start, but it was his first appearance in Colorado’s thin air. I’m willing to give him a mulligan, and I’d bet that he rebounds a bit on Monday against the Cubs.

Negative Energy: John Maine absolutely imploded on Tuesday. His line? 8 runs allowed (7 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks over just three innings (75 pitches, just 47 for strikes). He struck out four, but balanced that by giving up a home run to CF Seth Smith right after allowing an RBI double to starting pitcher Greg Smith.

It’s not looking good for Maine. He’s guaranteed to start against the Cardinals tomorrow night, but all bets are off after that. A poor performance could cost him his spot in the rotation, but who would that spot go to? Internal options include Pat Misch, Tobi Stoner, and Dillon Gee. Misch has major league experience but choosing him would leave Mike Pelfrey as the only righty in the rotation. Gee and Stoner have talent and upside but are completely unproven: would they really be an upgrade over Maine, especially in a rotation that already has so many question marks? External answers include free agents Pedro Martinez or Jarrod Washburn, but neither is ready to start right now, which is what the Mets need the most.

My vote? Call-up Dillon Gee to take Maine’s place in the rotation and Bobby Parnell to take Jenrry Mejia’s spot in the bullpen, add Jenrry Mejia to Binghamton’s rotation, and let Maine take Gee’s spot in Buffalo. The Parnell/Mejia move might seem gratuitous, but Mejia needs to get back to starting as soon as possible. If they don’t do it now, they better do it when Sean Green is ready to play again. But I digress…

What’s Next: Santana (today) and Maine (tomorrow) vs. the Cardinals, and Niese, Pelfrey, and Perez vs. the Cubs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Citi Field.

Posted in Johan Santana, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Rotation After One Turn

Posted by JD on April 11, 2010

Opening Day

Johan Santana on the mound

The Mets are 2-3 and we’ve had the opportunity to see each member of the rotation pitch once. It’s far too early to make definitive judgments as to who has “earned” their spots and who hasn’t, but it’s not too early to start analyzing the pitchers’ performances. Keeping in mind that one appearance does not a fair sample size make, let’s take a cursory look at how they acquitted themselves:

The Untouchable: Johan Santana. I almost feel silly posting his line here, but fair is fair. In his first start, Johan threw 103 pitches (69 for strikes – 67%) over six innings, striking out five while allowing four hits and two walks. By no means dominating, Santana nonetheless turned in a solid quality start. His spot as the number one starter is unquestioned.

Positive Vibes: Speaking of quality starts, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey each had one (with differing end results). Niese allowed three runs (on eight hits and two walks) over six innings in a game the Mets would go to lose 3-1, while Pelfrey allowed two runs (on four hits and four walks) over six innings in a game the Mets would go on to win 8-2. Neither start was worthy of big publicity, but both deserve credit for giving the Mets’ hitters a chance to win the game. That’s more than the next two guys can say.

Negative Energy: Oliver Perez was Oliver Perez and John Maine was John Maine. I like to look at the positives, so there’s this: Ollie struck out six in five and 2/3 innings and Maine threw 58% of his pitches for strikes. Really. That’s about it. They have a lot of work to do before they can move up into the next category, but the fact that the Mets lack clear-cut replacements means that they’ll have some time to improve.

What’s Next: Keep in mind that anything can happen, but this is how I see the second turn through the rotation: Santana vs. the Nats (today), Maine, Niese, and Pelfrey vs. the Rockies in Colorado (Tuesday thru Thursday), and Perez vs. the Cardinals in St. Louis on Friday. In other words, this week is going to be a great litmus test for the 2-5 starters. Bring it on, and Let’s Go Mets!

Posted in Johan Santana, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »