2009 Analysis: Pedro Feliciano
One of the few bright spots on a disappointing pitching staff, “Perpetual Pedro” set a New York Mets record for appearances with 88, and set career bests in WHIP (1.16), Holds (24), K:BB ratio (3.28), and Walks per 9 IP (2.7).
Manager Jerry Manuel used the 33-year-old lefthander whether he needed to or didn’t, nearly always in “matchup” situations against lefthanded hitters. Feliciano returned that trust by holding 156 lefthanded batters to a .215 batting average and .245 OBP; he struck out 41 of them and walked only 6 — though, he did give up 4 HRs to LH hitters.
Though he was pigeonholed as a LOOGY, Feliciano was passably effective against righthanded batters as well — they hit .264 against him, though with a .365 OBP and .486 SLG. If you pretend the 4 intentional walks to RHs didn’t happen, that OBP drops to a more manageable .329.
Considering his every-other-day use over the past two seasons, it’s hard to imagine a Mets bullpen without Pedro Feliciano. He is clearly a master at retiring lefthanded hitters, but one must wonder if he’d make more of a contribution as a “crossover” reliever — one who faces both lefties and righties. When given the chance to do so by Willie Randolph in 2007, Feliciano responded with a standout season — one in which he held 163 RH batters to a .221 batting average. In 2008, though, righties hit him to the tune of .357, prompting Manuel to make him a specialist.
It’s an interesting dilemma, and I personally wonder if Feliciano’s struggles against RH hitters under Manuel were due to a deficiency in his toolset or overuse. He pitched with no days’ rest 34 times in both 2008 and 2009, but only 23 times in 2007. There’s a possibility that if he were used more judiciously — optimizing a fine balance of sharpness and rest — Feliciano might have the ability to be a solid setup man. We may never know, because the current manager seems set in his thinking.
What do you think? If Pedro Feliciano were used for full innings at a time, but limited to, say, 10-12 games per month instead of 15-18, would he be more valuable to a bullpen? Or is his ability to get that one or two outs 85-90 times a year the best use of his talents?
Pedro’s presence as one of the best LOOGY’s in the league suggests to me that he shouldn’t be tampered with. We already know he is death on left handed hitters, so I think it’s a finer idea to leave him where he is and look elsewhere for Mr Crossover. Because, if you decide to make Pedro the crossover/8th inning guy, not only do you not know how he’s going to handle that role, but you’re also going to have to find a new LOOGY, which Scott Schoeneweis showed us was a lot harder than it sounds.
Once again, this conversation leaves me wondering where the heck Adam Bostick was this past September. If he put together a solid month in the bigs, following up his impressive showing at AAA, I’d be a bit more comfortable in allowing Pedro a chance to earn a bigger role. But as things look now, Pedro is one of the only sure things in the pen, and changing his role without a foreseeable LOOGY replacement is not the best course of action, IMO. Not to mention, with all the work Pedro’s arm has been subjected to the past 3 seasons, allowing Jerry free-reign to use him EVEN MORE OFTEN as a crossover reliever is a sure-fire way to land Pedro on the DL for a long time. Just because Pedro won’t be facing only a batter or two per outing any longer, doesn’t mean Jerry won’t feel inclined to use him in 80+ games anyway.
On a side note, we like to talk about how the Mets have seemed reluctant to trade players while their value is highest in recent years. Well, Feliciano fits right on that boat. Is it time to sell while the fetching price is still (relatively) high?
He has suffered the ups and downs of the Mets along with all of us. I wouldn’t mind seeing his role expand, if he shows he can handle it.