Brian Costa of NJ.com wrote this morning
about Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey
adding a splitter to his repertoire. Some key passages from Costa's article:
- "I think the split is going to be that secondary pitch that I’ve never had," Pelfrey said. "I’ve always known that I needed a true secondary pitch and I’ve been working on that. It just took a lot longer than I would have liked."
- He threw 77.4 percent of his pitches for fastballs in 2009, according to the Bill James Handbook, the highest percentage in the National League. The results weren’t pretty. Pelfrey finished 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA.
- The pitch has downward movement similar to his sinker, but he throws it about 7-8 mph slower. Catcher Rod Barajas said Pelfrey’s splitter was surprisingly effective during camp, much more so than his slider and curveball. "He grips it differently (than the sinker), but he has the same arm action," Barajas said. "So it has the look, just based on the way he throws it, like it’s going to be hard. It’s a pitch they can’t recognize, and by the time they do recognize it, it’s too late."
In Costa's article he uses the Bill James Handbook
as a resource to note that Pelfrey led the National League with the highest percentage of fastballs thrown in 2009, 77.4%. Not having access to the Bill James Handbook
, we've checked FanGraphs.com
and they suggest Pelfrey threw his fastball 78.3% of the time, so either way the highest percentage.Oddly though, in 2008 when Pelfrey was 13-11, 3.72 he threw his fastball even more often,
81.2% of the time. So it seems the problem lies not with his fastball but with his lack of a viable alternative pitch. As Pelfrey's career has progressed clearly word has gotten around the league that his fastball is all he's got demonstrated by his 2009 home run per fly ball percentage of 9.5, the highest of his career.Tonight's start versus the Washington Nationals will be a good opportunity to observe Pelfrey's new splitter, how effective it is, and how often he uses it. Should he be able to use it effectively he may be able to keep opposing hitters off balance and achieve better results. That would go a long way to bolster a much maligned pitching staff in the long term, and get the Mets back to .500 in the near term.