(Long Island, NY) How much longer could the Mets have delayed the inevitable? The back end of their starting rotation has been a mess basically the entire season, and they still have a double-digit lead in the National League East. Most likely because of default, none the less, but the team would be so much stronger for the stretch run and post season if they had a solid number four or five starter. If a trade for an established arm is not going to happen by the July 31st deadline, then they have to promote Mike Pelfrey for the remainder of the season.
Coming out of Spring Training, the number four and five starters were Victor Zambrano and Brian Bannister. Zambrano was outright brutal and had season ending surgery in May. Bannister was pitching well before injuring his hamstring and he has not been back. Fill-ins such as Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez and John Maine did not work. The Mets did acquire Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and he has been inconsistent. They then promoted Alay Soler, who had some good starts and some brutal ones, as well. He now has been demoted to Triple-A.
Pedro Martinez missed his last start because of a sore hip, and he has subsequently been placed on the Disabled List. With an older staff such as the Mets have with Martinez, Tom Glavine, Steve Traschel and Hernandez, there is always the chance of a missed start because of injury. They need to get a reliable, young arm in the staff that can get them by periods such as the current one. And that person is already in the organization.
Mike Pelfrey was the Mets’ number one draft choice last year and he is currently pitching at Double-A Binghamton. The 6’7” righthander had a very good spring with the Mets and began the season at Single-A St. Lucie, where he was dominant with a 2-1 record and a 1.64 ERA. In 12 starts for the B-Mets, Pelfrey is 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA, with 26 walks, 77 strikeouts and allowing 60 hits in 66 1/3 innings. In his last minor league start on July 1st versus New Hampshire, he was the winning pitcher and had 11 strikeouts in seven innings.
Recalling Pelfrey at this juncture is beneficial to him and the team. There is not enormous pressure on him because of the team’s lead in the division. Being only 22 years of age, Pelfrey would have a strong veteran presence to guide him.
In his first big league start versus the Florida Marlins on Saturday, Pelfrey did get the win even though he was not at his best. Understandable for a kid going for the first time. In five innings, he surrendered three runs (two earned), five hits, four walks and three strikeouts. He had a lot of support in his debut with the final score being 17-3. Pelfrey’s first pitch was a 96 mph fastball for a called strike. Hopefully this will be the start of a long and successful career with the Mets.
Putting band-aids on the rotation has not worked so far, and probably will not as long as the Mets do so. Barring any trades for established pitchers, the only logical choice would be to see what Pelfrey has now for the long haul. He can get the necessary experience and possibly be a big help to the team down the stretch.
Looking back a few years ago, the Mets had another phenom pitcher in Double-A whom they were reluctant to call up. Ultimately dealt at the 2004 trading deadline, his new team recalled him two weeks later and he has been the ace of their staff ever since. The player? All-Star Scott Kazmir of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.