Can Pelfrey Make it in the Big Apple?
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, April 1, 2007

With both Chan Ho Park and Aaron Sele falling out of contention in the race to become the Mets fifth starter this season, former first-round pick Mike Pelfrey has made his presence felt this spring, going 1-1 with 2.84 ERA in 19 innings pitched and as a result was named the team’s last piece to their starting rotation earlier this week.

The only question is, can Pelfrey continue to be successful when the regular season starts?

According to Mets manager Willie Randolph, you’d have to think so.

"He's matured," Randolph told MLB.com. "He's learned a lot from last spring. He's got good stuff, but he's worked hard. He's still a work in progress, like a lot of our young players, but I feel like he can help us."

Winning seven games in 17 starts and striking out 109 hitters in only 96.1 innings in the minor leagues last season, Pelfrey earned himself a mid-season call up and despite some success in his two starts against the Marlins and Reds, where he gave up four runs in 11 innings, Pelfrey was helped by modest run support and wasn’t really thrown into the major league fire, giving many scouts and insiders the fuel they needed to omit Pelfrey as a legitimate big-league talent until he got more minor-league seasoning.

Despite the feelings of critics however, Pelfrey has looked solid this spring training and has shown that the control problems he exhibited with the Mets last season [eight walks in 15 innings] may have been attributed to nervousness and big league jitters. This spring training, the six-foot-seven, 23-year-old walked only two batters in 19 innings during spring training action, easily earning himself the final spot in the Mets rotation as a result.

However, despite his solid spring training, Pelfrey knows that he still has a ways to go before he can become the type of pitcher the Mets envisioned him as when they drafted him in the first round in the 2005 draft and have him a $3.5 million-dollar signing bonus. Nevertheless he knows that getting to the dance is half the battle and is ready to strut his stuff in Flushing.

"It's always good to hear, 'Hey, you made the team,"' Pelfrey told the Associated Press. "I've still got a lot of work to do and I've got to continue to get better."

With pitchers like Pedro Martinez, Duaner Sanchez and Guillermo Mota not available until much later in the season and all the changes the Braves and Phillies have made this off-season, Pelfrey’s success will become a pivotal one in determining the Mets post-season chances.