Mets Game 129: Win Over Phillies

Mets 7 Phillies 4

Just when you were ready to write off Mike Pelfrey, he mans up at Citizens Bank Park and gives you a glimmer of hope.

Mets Game Notes

Let’s get one thing straight: Mike Pelfrey didn’t pitch well. But he pitched well enough to win, and often this year the case has been the opposite — pitching just well enough to lose. In the first few frames, it appeared as though that would not be the case, as he allowed an early Mets lead to diminish with each passing inning. But then he shut the door suddenly.

Big Pelf pitched six full innings, allowing three runs on 9 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2. Technically, that qualifies as a “quality start”. The fact he did this in Philadelphia, in a game that could have easily been given away, has to be seen as progress. I don’t think Pelfrey will ever be the front-end starter that we hoped he’d be, but he’s fine as an innings-eater at the back end. Maybe if we think of him in that way, it’ll be easier to stomach his starts.

In a bizarre moment, Placido Polanco leaned into, then away from, an inside fastball by Pelfrey, prompting Pelfrey to tell him to get out of the way (in so many words). The two exchanged pleasantries before Josh Thole stepped in front of Polanco, politely asked him to cool it, and then ran to the mound to calm down Pelfrey. Was Polanco looking to get hit by the pitch? Maybe. Probably. It was a savvy attempt by a savvy player that didn’t work out, but sometimes does. Former Met Ron Hunt was a master at the craft, as was Fernando Vina, among others. I describe the moment as bizarre because it seemed as though Pelfrey was expressing anger toward an opposing player — something we rarely see — and on top of it, Thole was in the awkward position of being peacemaker. Those are the last two Mets I’d expect to see in the middle of any kind of fracas, yet there they were. A good sign? Maybe. I’m not saying they need to get into fights. Rather, I sincerely believe that Pelfrey in particular would be a better pitcher if he occasionally got himself a little worked up and angry at the opposition, in a mean, controlled manner. Batters should be scared of a 6’7″ giant throwing 95 MPH, but based on their body language, it doesn’t appear anyone is fearful in the batter’s box against “Big Pelf”. Just a hint of fear in the back of a batter’s mind is enough to give the pitcher an advantage.

Angel Pagan made another throwing error, and it was truly unnecessary. It came on a drive off the bat of Chase Utley in 7th, with the Mets up by 4 and Utley almost certainly stopping at second base with a standup double. But Pagan rushed to get the ball back to the infield, overthrew the cutoff man, allowing Utley to get to third. Maybe Ruben Tejada could have been in a better position, I’m not sure, but in any case it was yet another mental error that became a physical error for Pagan.

Speaking of Utley, he still cuts off his swing and looks like he’s placing the ball as a golfer might instead of swinging through the ball and getting a good, high follow-through. I first noticed and mentioned this back in May when Utley returned from his knee injury, and I wonder if it’s something he’s doing on purpose — and if so, if it’s to take pressure off the knee, or simply to drive the ball to specific spots. If it’s the former, I also have to wonder if he’ll be able to easily “change back” his swing once he’s 100% healthy and regain the power that helped him hit 30 HR per year.

The Phillies nearly mounted a rally in the 8th against Manny Acosta, who was first victimized by poor infield defense (an error by Lucas Duda) and then saved by stellar infield defense (a diving stab by Justin Turner that turned into a double play).

Bobby Parnell was a little shaky in his first opportunity as the Mets closer but he wiggled out of trouble to nail down his first save of 2011. Parnell touched 102 MPH but as usual had trouble harnessing his firepower.

Holy Nick Evans! Who is this guy, where did he come from, and how do we get some more? Evans hit for the cycle between games two and three, and provided most of the offensive firepower in this win, contributing a double, homerun, and single as well as a run scored and four RBI. His batting average increased by about 80 points in two days. He’s clearly in a zone, and as long as he is, let’s see him get more at-bats. Bat him first or second — what the heck, there’s nothing to lose at this point.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off to make that long trip up the NJ Turnpike back to Flushing to face the Braves for a three-game set beginning on Friday. Game time is 7:10 PM and features Chris Capuano vs. Tim Hudson.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Florian August 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm
    Good for Pelfrey, having won the game – but with Him being that inconsistent throughout a game (first allowing runs, then more or less cruising through the innings), isn’t it a bit risky to think about him as a future closer, as discussed before? I don’t see him as being spot on precise and efficient for innings 8 and 9.

    Second question, always lingering on my mind: everyone talks about the Pitcher being good or bad, but what about the catcher? Doesn’t he also play an important part influencing the pitcher’s strategy on what pitches to throw when to whom? or especially just being able to give the pitcher a mental boost when he gets battered?

    • Joe Janish August 25, 2011 at 9:29 am
      Florian, I agree with you on Pelfrey and closing — I don’t see him as being of the right mindset. But, you never know until you put someone in the situation to see what happens.

      As for the catcher, yes, absolutely. The catcher has a significant impact on the pitcher’s performance. However it is something that is very difficult to analyze and measure from the outside, so not much emphasis is placed on it in the press / blogs. Even though there are a number of stats that attempt to measure catching ability, they all fall short for various reasons.

      It may be that there are catchers who don’t have much impact, and there are catchers who have significant impact — negative or positive. Much of a catcher’s ability to influence a pitcher’s performance has to do with managing his psyche, taking charge of the ballgame, and having the pitcher’s confidence.

  2. Tommy2cat August 25, 2011 at 2:06 am
    Thanks again, Joe, for doing a great job. Whenever I miss a game, I go to your site for the review and leave feeling as if I saw it.

    I met Mike Pelfrey last year when one of my sons was honored at CitiField. He threw a perfect game in Little League in which he struck out every batter. The Mets were great. Pelfrey greeted our family in the dugout and hung out with our boys for @ 10 minutes. He was incredibly polite and focused on making sure they enjoyed the experience. Jerry Manuel was pretty funny, too.

    That experience prevents me from crying for him to be traded, but dang he gets me upset. I want to teach him my cutter that runs down and away from righties so that he can put hitters away. I’m serious.

    Have a great one!

  3. Walnutz15 August 25, 2011 at 7:45 am
    Heard them talking about Wright being placed on waviers – with the Rox making a claim on him.

    Opened B&C this morning, as if they were exclusively breaking some kind of “secret news” — but I’ve seen it on a few sites, with timestamps from last night.

    As I’ve always maintained with this team……I still see no one as untouchable.

    Gonna be an interesting winter, on many levels.

  4. Walnutz15 August 25, 2011 at 7:54 am
    waivers*, even.
  5. MikeT August 25, 2011 at 10:18 am
    ‘nutz don’t get too excited. Multiple sources are trying to explain that this happens every year for almost every player. Derek Jeter was placed on waivers every year. This is not news.
  6. Walnutz15 August 25, 2011 at 11:09 am
    Not sure where I said I’m excited about anything – however, while teams do place guys on waivers all the time….teams don’t necessarily claim said-players.

    Hopefully, they explore trading Wright this winter. There’s no reason not to (provided you’re going to get serious about extending Reyes – otherwise, it doesn’t make as much sense).

    Alderson will very likely listen to offers on anyone this winter…….and I’m hoping that some kind of useful deal comes out of the woodwork; not just on Wright – but on anyone else who might bring back a solid piece or two.

    The Mets will probably hold onto him next year, and see what the modifications to the park will do for his game.

  7. Walnutz15 August 25, 2011 at 11:16 am
    P.S. – Just as convo on this picks up……

    “David wright was actually not claimed by the rockies, or anyone else. Wright cleared waivers awhile back.”

    - Heyman

    “Can confirm @SI_JonHeyman report that David Wright, in fact, cleared waivers. Was not claimed.”

    - Lennon

    • MikeT August 25, 2011 at 11:35 am
      OK, I think if you want to use this as a launching pad to start discussing Wright to the Rockies and what the Mets can expect in such a trade, then go right ahead. I don’t live in NY anymore but I do hear things are right now with everything to possibly talk about in sports, WFAN is beating Wright was claimed on waivers down everyone’s throat. I’m not a fan of The Fan.

      I’ve always been open to trading Wright but you have to remember that Wright is very good at baseball, and you need to replace him long term. Murphy in the short term is an okay idea, but why trade Wright unless you get back at least one big time pitching prospect close enough to the bigs that he can contribute in 2013. Not likely.

  8. Walnutz15 August 25, 2011 at 11:59 am
    Simple rule of thumb for anything FAN related, especially the morning show……..Carton is a sensationalist, who always acts as if he’s “breaking” something.

    I just take everything with a grain of salt – and see it for the discussion it becomes. As we’ve seen already, other analysts have already denied that the Rockies claimed him.

    Taking a look at anyone on this roster, and what they’re currently providing — I’d say anyone’s replaceable.

    (Unless you’re giving me top of the line production from Reyes at the top of the order. That’s something worth building your team around – however, you ask yourself how long you’re going to get it.)

    • MikeT August 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm
      I disagree that Wright is replaceable. Who’s better at his position? Longoria and maybe Zimmerman? Third base is not a premium position right now and so having a premium player at a non premium position is an advantage the Mets have when building for the future. This is the reason they need to keep Reyes.