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?