Back in 2005 there were high expectations for Mike Pelfrey. As a Boras client many teams worried about his signability, allowing him to fall to the Mets at number nine despite many teams believing he projected to be an ace. Last season that potential seemed to be realized. In the first half Pelfrey posted a 2.69 ERA and had 10 wins. Unfortunately for Pelf and the Mets, he regressed in the second half, and has been spiraling down ever since.
I wouldn’t say Pelfrey has been terrible this year, but he has not been reliable. He has had his good games and he has had his bad games. My problem is he still has the stuff to be an ace. Could you imagine if Pelfrey had the poise and command of Dillon Gee?
Several analysts are pointing to Pelfrey’s mechanics as a reason for his problems. So the question becomes, would Pelfrey benefit from some time in the minors?
Pelfrey has always been a headcase, and the pressure of winning in New York could keep him from focusing on his mechanics. In AAA, against lesser competition and with less pressure to win, Pelfrey could take the time to get his head on straight.
The Mets have been notorious for rushing prospects to the majors and Pelfrey may be one of the worst cases. (ok, ok. Mejia was the worst case by far. I will never forgive Manuel for that) Without that time to develop Pelfrey has continued to struggle. If that time could help Pelfrey realize his potential, it would be well worth it.
I can understand the counter arguments. He is still young and should be able to find his way in the majors. With the Mets still gunning for the Wild Card, they need him in their rotation as he has still given them innings and they don’t have many other options to fill out the rotation.
My point is, he has been given ample opportunities to correct his mistake and has yet to show that he can. He has glaring mechanical problems that have only gotten worse throughout the course of the season. He is a known headcase who unravels as things get harder. Trying to make this adjustment on a team in the middle of a playoff push is not conducive for Mike Pelfrey’s progression. This strategy has been used on veteran pitchers before. For example Steve Trachsel, Bobby Jones and even Roy Halladay have been sent down to the minors to refine their games. This strategy has worked for all three players.
At the end of the season the Mets have to decide if they want to tender Pelfrey, knowing he is likely going to get a raise. For a team looking to keep payroll down, they may not want to take the risk on a player who has consistently been unable to be a reliable major league pitcher. Sending him down to the minors now will give him a chance to refine his game and possibly make some September starts to show the Mets brass that he can be a front-end starter. Perhaps that seems a bit soon, but both Trachsel and Jones were able to make it back after only a few weeks.
Getting Pelfrey on track could be a major victory for a team that is looking to compete for a championship sooner rather than later.