Figgy Loses a Turn
As a result of yesterday’s rainout, Nelson Figueroa will get skipped when his turn comes around the next time in the rotation — which would be Sunday at Arizona.
Instead of Figgy, Johan Santana will go to the hill.
On the surface, this appears to be a good idea. After all, Santana has a few more Cy Young Awards than Figueroa (though, Johan’s never pitched in Taiwan).
However, the part I don’t get is why are the Mets passing over Figgy’s turn instead of Mike Pelfrey’s? Pelfrey is scheduled to pitch the day before, on Saturday. Looking at the stats, the two pitchers aren’t very different thus far this year — they’re both 2-1, their ERAs are similar, and they both average a little over five innings per start. The only contrast is in strikeouts per nine innings (Figgy is nearly 3 Ks better) and WHIP (Figgy: 1.34; Pelf: 1.75). But through only around 25 innings, it’s too small a sample to compare them strictly on the stats.
Outside of the stat lines, it “feels” like Figgy has had better starts so far. In all but one of his starts, Figueroa has been good to great. Pelfrey, on the other hand, has been good, great, terrible, so-so — in that order. On the plus side, Pelf has induced 43 ground balls in 22 innings, while Figgy has only 28 GBs in 25 IP. Pelfrey’s problem, however, is that many of those grounders have found holes.
I’m not suggesting that Figgy should be getting his turn on Saturday instead of Pelfrey, but curious to the thought that went behind the decision. My best guess — and it makes sense — is that Figueroa is more experienced and effective coming out of the bullpen than Pelfrey, and if long relief is needed this week, Willie Randolph may be more comfortable knowing Nellie Figs is available. The only other thing is the ground ball factor; Chase Field in Arizona is not a bandbox, but it was 11th in MLB last year in home run rate (right behind Miller Park in Milwaukee). In addition, the D’Backs offense is on a rampage right now, first in all of MLB in runs scored and third in the NL in homeruns. Perhaps the surprising bats of free-swinging Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Young factored into the decision to start the sinkerballing Pelfrey.
Whatever the case, I’m not happy about the West Coast swing coming up so soon. Those games ending after midnight EST make for cranky mornings.