I wouldn’t term the decision shocking, but it is certainly unusual. I can’t think of another team that publicly announced their Opening Day starter more than three weeks before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.
I suppose the announcement was made to boost Big Pelf’s sometimes fragile confidence. By being named the #1 so early, he is “the man” and can prepare himself as such. What does that mean? It means he won’t worry so much about his performance and stats during spring training. Instead, he’ll focus on getting himself into great shape and on working on his secondary pitches — which could still use a bit of polish.
Looking back to last spring, Pelfrey’s numbers in exhibition games were awful; he had an ERA in the 8s and we discussed here whether we should be concerned. My take was that he was “working on things”, and in the end, thank goodness he did, because the result was Pelfrey finally mixing in off-speed pitches on a consistent basis. If he spends another spring training further “experimenting” and getting used to throwing his change-up, it can only help.
But, the pessimistic side of me has two concerns about this decision to make him the #1 starter. First, I hope it doesn’t jinx him; can’t you just imagine something freakish happening in spring training to prevent Pelfrey from beginning the season? Sorry, as a Mets fan I always assume I’m walking on thin ice. Second, I’m a little concerned about Pelfrey regularly going up against the #1 starters of every other team. Surely, he won’t embarrass himself against the Roy Halladays, Josh Johnsons, Tim Hudsons, Zack Greinkes, and Chris Carpenters of the world — but can he beat them? I’m not so sure, but I guess someone has to try.
What are your thoughts on this announcement? Do you like it? Do you agree with the timing? Do you think it will be a negative or a positive?
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.