NY Sports Dog: Pat Myself On The Back Department - Mike Pelfrey Edition

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pat Myself On The Back Department - Mike Pelfrey Edition

Great piece from long time contributor Andy the Lawyer:

A few weeks back, I posted that Pelfrey wasn't really a sinkerball pitcher. That if he was going to be effective, it wasn't going to be because he "pitched to contact" but because he got better at striking guys out more, through improved command and/or a "out" pitch. Well, in his 4-0, 0.69 ERA start, Pelfrey is actually averaging FEWER groundballs to flyballs than in prior years.

2010: GB/FB Ratio: 0.92 GO/AO Ratio: 1.19
Career: GB/FB Ratio: 1.00 GO/AO Ratio: 1.41

Pelfrey hasn't been better because he's turning into Webb-lite, it becaue he is striking out more batters and giving up fewer "fat" pitches (the kind that lead to HR's and extra base hits).

2010: HR% 0.0 SO% 18.3 XBH% 4.8
Career: HR% 1.7 SO% 13.2 XBH% 7.1

One other stat of note: Pelfrey is actually popping guys up quite a bit this year - another sign that he isn't making his living on sinkers. His IF/FB ratio (percentage of Flyballs that stay in the infield) is 17% this year, as opposed to 12% for his career.

I'm not a scout, but to my eyes the big differences in Pelfrey this year have been (a) avoiding the mental meltdowns that cost him big innings in prior years, and (b) learning how to set up batters and get them out. Yesterday's 9-pitch at bat with Heyward in the first inning was a great example.

Pelfrey sailed to 2 outs, then gave up 2 walks sandwiched around a double to have the bases loaded with a dangerous hitter at the plate - recipe for a classic breakdown for the old Pelf. Now add in the Heyward is hard to strike out. But Pelf not only stayed cool, but he got out of the jam unharmed. He threw almost exclusively fastballs once the count was full, but he kept moving it around. Some were fastballs on the outside of the plate, while others had some "cut" on the inside portion of the plate. But he didn't uncork one that Heyward could take for ball 4, and he didn't offer up a gopher ball. He eventually induced a weak pop up to the left side.

That's the "new" Pelf, not a guy who lives on grounders.

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