Mike Pelfrey won his fifth straight start yesterrday and is looking like a pitcher that will be a mainstay in the Mets rotation for several years. The monkeys told everyone that Pelfrey just needed some time. When we wrote our May 5th column, many fans were ready to give up on Mike, but the monkeys wrote the following about Pelfrey studying Brandon Webb:
Well to date, Pelfrey has more closely resembled Peter Parker than a webslinger, but there is reason to believe Pelfrey can get there. Pelfrey does throw a hard sinker that tops out at 97 MPH. Mets fans have seen a few rare glimpses where this could be a dominant pitch. As Pelfrey observes from Webb, he needs to pound the strike zone which he just hasn't done consistently. The New York Times article states that Pelfrey is performing balance drills intended to get his hand on top of the ball when throwing the pitch. When Pelfrey does not do that, his sinker flattens out, running laterally across the plate instead of diving down in the zone, where hitters often cannot help but pound the ball into the ground — à la Webb.
Mets fans need to acknowledge that the Mets have rushed Pelfrey along. A lot of that has been more on need rather than merit. Pelfrey made a grand total of 33 starts in the minors (only 16 at AAA)and pitched a total of 176 innings. 2006, Fausto Carmona another pitcher with a power sinker was mishandled and wound up going 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA. He has since blossomed into one of the AL's best pitchers. You can't teach "stuff." Sometimes it takes time to harness talent.
The Mets have "pushed" their young talent. They have 16 year olds playing professional ball in the rookie leagues. They have a 19 year old playing in AA. Very few teams are this aggressive with their prospects. Under ordinary circumstances, fans should be patient with prospects when they first get to another level. But fans of the Mets need to be even more patient.