SAN JUAN, PR—So far this season, Mike Pelfrey has won six of his 10 games following a Mets loss. That's the definition of a stopper. In his last start, he did the same, winning on Friday night after the Mets lost to the Tigers the night before.
He has also been there for prolonged losing streaks, like after the Mets got off to a 2-6 start. Or the memorable Monday night in Atlanta, when the Mets had just been swept in a four-game series in Miami. Prior to that game, they had their entire front office (including the Wilpons) in town, with Jerry Manuel firmly on the hot seat.
Now, although it's not that type of a crisis just yet, it's still a game the Mets must win to stay in this race. They have lost two games in a row to a Marlins team that was reeling, having just been swept at home by the Padres over the weekend, and a team that has had a lot of controversy lately.
Up until last night, they didn't know who their long-term manager would be, until it was announced last night that Edwin Rodriguez would keep the job for the rest of this season.
The Mets meanwhile, were the hottest team in the National League, having gone on a tear since May 22 to pull within a half-game of first-place Atlanta.
They are now 0-6 this season against the Marlins away from Citi Field. Ironically, the last time the Mets got swept by the Marlins on the road, Mike Pelfrey was the guy to get them back on track in Atlanta. Now, he'll hope to get them back on track against the Marlins, as they try to gain ground on Atlanta.
Pelfrey will be going for his 11th win of the season, and his last couple of starts haven't been perfect. His last one came against the Twins on Friday night, and his line shows that he pitched decently, going six innings, allowing two runs and six hits, but he did allow a leadoff home run to Denard Span on the second pitch of the game. His two combined starts prior to that, against the Orioles and Yankees, Pelfrey gave up eight runs in 13 innings of work.
In this series thus far, the Marlins have found the power stroke, bashing five home runs in two games, all of major importance. Pelfrey doesn't allow the long ball, only giving up six home runs this season—one every 16.2 innings pitched. Still, it may be hard, given the Puerto Rican humidity and a power-laden lineup, for Pelfrey to control the home run.
If it will be a slugfest, the Mets will have to produce on their end against a guy they haven't faced this season, Chris Volstad. As a first-round pick by the Marlins in 2005, Volstad hasn't lived up to expectations so far.
The 23-year-old pitched great when he was called up in 2008, going 6-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 14 starts. But he struggled in his first full season in 2009. Last season, Volstad went 9-13 with an ERA of 5.21 in 29 starts, and he walked 59 batters in 159 innings, one every 2.7 innings.
This season, it hasn't come easily for Volstad, either. He hasn't had a lot of terrible starts, but only a few have been quality starts. He did throw a quality start his last time out against the light-hitting Padres, giving up three runs in six innings, and he struck out six without allowing a walk. Unfortunately for him, the Marlins were shut out, 3-0, as he fell to 4-7 on the season.
Angel Pagan did finally return to last night's lineup, but he got pinch-hit for when a right-hander came into the game. He still can't bat from the left side of the plate, and with the right-hander Volstad starting tonight, Pagan will not start. Manager Jerry Manuel did say after last night's game that Pagan should be able to bat left-handed starting Thursday night in Washington.
Carlos Beltran participated in another rehab game yesterday morning as the DH, and he got one hit in five at-bats.
It's the final game in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Mets and Marlins, and the Mets will hope to fly to the Nation's Capital with a win.
Mike Pelfrey vs. Florida (career)
*1-6, 5.63 ERA, 56 IP, 68 H, 25 BB, 35 SO
Chris Volstad vs. New York (career)
1-2, 2.70 ERA, 23.1 IP, 21 H, 10 BB, 14 SO
*Most losses against any team in career, highest ERA against any team (minimum five starts)
2010 season series (New York vs. Florida)
April 5: New York 7, Florida 1
April 7: Florida 7, New York 6 (10)
April 8: Florida 3, New York 1
May 13: Florida 2, New York 1
May 14: Florida 7, New York 2
May 15: Florida 7, New York 5
May 16: Florida 10, New York 8
June 4: New York 4, Florida 3
June 5: New York 6, Florida 1
June 6: New York 7, Florida 6
June 28: Florida 10, New York 3
June 29: Florida 7, New York 6
Marlins lead series 8-4