Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Big Pelf is no illusion

Mike Pelfrey is 8-1, has won his last four starts, and -- as Matt Cerrone points out on MetsBlog -- Pelfrey is 6-0 when he starts the day after a Mets loss. Which makes him as much of a stopper as Johan Santana.

Pelfrey went eight innings for the win Tuesday night against the Padres, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out eight. In his last four wins, his ERA is a scant 1.27, the kind of production that prompted Ike Davis to compare his ability to that of the Cy Young Award-winning Santana.

Jerry Manuel said after the game that Pelfrey deserves to be in the same conversation as Josh Johnson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Throw in Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Jaime Garcia, David Price -- Pelfrey can hang with all of them, and the days of the Mets having no clear No. 2 behind Santana are long gone.

My gut feeling when I hear the accolades is: SHUT UP! STOP TALKING! DON'T JINX HIM! But that just comes from years of disappointment mixed with a splash of superstition. But as much as Mets fans don't want to get too high on Pelfrey, it's becoming clear that his success is no illusion, but part of a natural progression that we've been fortunate to see develop.

Pelfrey got home runs from Davis and David Wright, and Jeff Francoeur continued his surge with two more hits; he's batting close to .500 since his sit-down with Manuel a few days ago. Jose Reyes went 0-for-5 and saw his hitting streak snapped, but it didn't matter.

Frankie Rodriguez came on for the ninth inning, after Pelfrey was removed having thrown 110 pitches. The three-run lead was likened by Gary Cohen and Rod Darling as a layup, but K-Rod made it interesting, allowing three hits and a run before striking out the final two batters.

Could Manuel have left Pelfrey in for the complete game? Sure, but K-Rod has said time and again that he needs to be active and prefers more work rather than less. And 110 pitches is getting pretty close to Pelfrey's limit, anyway. Save situations have been less than abundant, so no one should have an issue with Manuel going by the book. (Although I can predict Joe Benigno will voice a problem with it on Wednesday afternoon. Write it down. Wait, I just did.)

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