It drives me a little crazy when Mike Pelfrey has bad starts and he’s crazy. He’s irredeemably terrible, and not smart enough to make adjustments. He’s a waste of a roster spot.
It drives me a little crazy when Mike Pelfrey has good starts and he’s turning a corner. He’s figuring it out. He’s learning to become an ace.
He’s the same guy.
His walk rates are pretty low. His strikeout rates are very low. He gets ground balls in bunches. And his success fluctuates, as you’d expect, based on the luck he has on balls in play.
I mean, his xFIP, which is fielding-independent and luck-independent ERA, was 4.45 in 2008, 4.47 in 2009, 4.31 in 2010. It is 4.40 in 2011.
Now, my only caveat would be this: last night, he didn’t get ground balls in bunches. In fact, he got a total of three over seven innings, which in many restaurants, wouldn’t be a big enough bunch to merit a reservation. He also struck out six, which would be a pace of 7.7 per nine innings- way above his career norm of around five per nine.
What does this mean? My guess is, very little. He had a similar game back in April against Arizona, then went right back to getting ground balls and generally not striking out people. It could be that he’s figured out how to succeed when he isn’t getting his normal number of ground balls, though- in past seasons, when he gave up fly balls, the results deteriorated rapidly.
Obviously, if Pelfrey has figured out how to consistently win even when ground balls desert him, he’ll improve a bit. Generally, though, more fly balls mean more runs, no matter who is pitching. If he figures out how to get hitters to consistently swing and miss, he’ll improve even more.
But what we’re probably talking about here is a one-game statistical blip. You know why? Because Mike Pelfrey isn’t crazy. He isn’t dumb (far from it). He isn’t, alas, an ace, and he probably isn’t figuring it out.
He’s. The. Same. Guy.