Midseason Analysis: Pedro Feliciano
As a result of the signing of Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Feliciano was pushed to the far side of the bullpen in spring training, and some pundits did not even include him in their “projected” rosters during the preseason. Despite his fairly successful 2006, Feliciano was considered by some to be an extra luxury — he’d be a usable LOOGY while Schoeneweis would likely grab most of the lefthanded innings not handed to Billy Wagner.
It’s safe to say things don’t always turn out according to plan.
While Feliciano had a strong 2006, his 2007 has been sensational. The lefty sidewinder with the loopy slider has been getting all the big outs Schoeneweis was supposed to manage, and extinguishing the fires Chad Bradford used to put out. He’s been equally adept against lefties and righties, limiting lefthanded swingers to a miniscule .106 batting average and one extra-base hit in 48 at-bats. More importantly, he’s extended his role from LOOGY to full-inning man, and slowly emerging as the Mets’ most reliable setup reliever.
Feliciano is on the pitcher’s version of a hot streak, and the only question is, can he keep it going? Since this is only his third year of sidearm slinging, there’s reason to believe he’s only now getting the hang of it, and may yet reach his peak. After pitching in 104 games over this year and last, the element of surprise is no longer on his side — so his effectiveness has to have something to do with skill.
Naturally, there’s no reason to expect him to continue with his superhuman effort — he’s due to have a few bad outings eventually — but over the course of the last 70 or so games, he should remain one of the most effective arms coming out of the Mets’ bullpen. Lord knows they need him to be, with the inconsistencies of Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman, and Guillermo Mota making the relief corps the team’s biggest question mark.