Currently the lone left-handed pitcher in the New York Mets' projected 2009 bullpen, 'loogy' Pedro Feliciano will be carrying a large burden with him into the upcoming season.
After seeing his number of appearances, earned-run average, and WHIP reach career highs since acquiring full-time status with the Mets in 2006, Feliciano has been the victim of quite a bit of criticism the past year or so, and is quickly losing the faith and trust of Mets fans everywhere.
In 2006 (the Mets' most recent playoff season) Feliciano was absolutely stellar, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.04 earned-run average in 64 relief appearances for the big club. In 2007 his numbers declined a bit, but compared to the rest of the bullpen that season, Feliciano was anything but unreliable. In fact, he was probably the most reliable pitcher the Mets called upon (besides Billy Wagner, of course).
However, in 2008, Feliciano was the apparently the victim of trying to do too much to each hitter he faced. Whether or not that was due in part to the strategy pitching coach Rick Peterson is uncertain, although it is somewhat hard to hold Peterson suspect in this case because Feliciano held a 2.63 earned-run average on June 16 (two days before Peterson was fired).
Perhaps it was the pressure that got to him. Perhaps he, along with the rest of the Mets' bullpen, was just tired from being overused by manager Jerry Manuel. Perhaps we can ponder tirelessly why Pedro Feliciano didn't perform well in the second half of last season, but the fact of the matter is he has shown he has the ability to pitch successfully at this level.
Hopefully this season, with the addition of closers J.J. Putz (yes, I still refer to him as a closer) and Francisco Rodriguez, Feliciano will be put into more comfortable situations in the sixth and seventh innings rather than the eighth and ninth. And hopefully his number of appearances will be held significantly less than 86, which may have played a role in his late-season drop off in 2008.
86 G, 3-4, 4.05 ERA, 53.1 IP, 50 SO, 26 BB, 1.556 WHIP
63 G, 3-3, 3.87 ERA, 48.2 IP, 40 SO, 22 BB, 1.420 WHIP