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2007 Bullpen Preview: Pedro Feliciano

Mike SteffanosWednesday, January 17, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Pedro Feliciano began his career as an 18-year-old with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who took him in the thirty-first round of the 1995 draft. He remained in the Dodgers organization for six years, making it as far as Triple-A in his final year there. At that point he began to bounce around, including a couple of stays with the Mets and a year in Japan with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in 2005.

Feliciano went to spring training with the Mets in 2006 with some sort of agreement that if he didn't make the big club he would return to Japan. While in training camp Rick Peterson got him to drop his arm angle to a very low 3/4 delivery, making him more effective against left-handed batters. He won a position in the bullpen coming out of camp, but was replaced at the last minute (literally pulled off a charter flight to New York) by Darren Oliver when Victor Zambrano experienced some hamstring issues. Somehow the Japanese safety net fell through, and a disgruntled Feliciano reported to Triple-A Norfolk to begin the year.

He didn't stay there long. On April 17, Victor Diaz (remember him?) was optioned down to Norfolk and Feliciano took his place. Feliciano was very good out of the gate with the Mets, allowing runs in only 3 of his first 19 appearances. He solidified his spot in the bullpen and steadily earned more important innings. Here are Pedro Feliciano's stats from 2006:

Pedro Feliciano 2006 Stats
Games Innings Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA AVG SLG WHIP
64 60.1 8.4 8.1 3.0 0.6 2.09 .248 .332 1.26

Feliciano put up some interesting splits last year that are worth taking a look at:

Pedro Feliciano 2006 Splits
  Innings Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG 
vs. RHB 29.0 9.0 3.1 4.7 0.6 .266 .354 .349
vs. LHB 31.1 7.8 12.6 1.4 0.6 .231 .272 .316 

Home 30 10.5 7.5 3.0 1.2 .294 .361 .437
Road 30.1 6.2 8.6 3.0 0.0 .196 .261 .215 

While lacking an explosive fastball, Feliciano throws a very good slider, and uses it with some effectiveness against right-handers, too. Although, as is typical with a lefty specialist, right-handers do hit him better, the .266 batting average against and .349 slugging percentage that righties had against Feliciano really aren't that bad. This enabled Willie Randolph to be comfortable leaving him in against some right-handers when another leftie was due up next. His biggest problem in this regard was the huge disparity of walks issued to righties as opposed to lefties, which most likely was a symptom of pitching very carefully to them.

The other item of interest was the dramatic home/road split. Despite all of the games the Mets play in launching pads like Philadelphia and Atlanta, Feliciano's batting average against was almost a hundred points higher at home. It's hard to know whether this was just a statistical anomaly or reflective of possibly trying too hard in front of the home crowd. You would think that with such a large difference in the numbers that there is something there.

Other noteworthy numbers: Feliciano allowed 12 of 39 inherited runners to score -- not very impressive given his other more solid numbers. He also had a tendency to give up hits with nobody on base and no outs, with a .314 AVG against in those situations -- including a .300 AVG and .375 OBP for batters leading off an inning. So many relievers seem to need men on base to bear down. Conversely, the .224/.269/.239 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with runners in scoring position was outstanding.

Pedro Feliciano's repertoire includes an average fastball which he throws 47% of the time, and a good slider (31%), along with a handful of curves (14%) and changeups (8%). The slider is his one real out pitch. The league hit .336 against Feliciano's fastball, which points to a need to set it up effectively with that slider (.133 AVG against) and get ahead of hitters.

It's a crowded bullpen heading into the spring. Scott Schoeneweis' 3-year contract will virtually guarantee him a job in the 'pen, and Feliciano will need to earn that second lefty spot. At 30 years old and with only 133 major league innings under his belt, the career minor leaguer must prove right out of the gate that last year was no fluke. Pedro Feliciano's excellent 2006 campaign has bought him nothing more than a little respect heading into the spring. On the other hand, if he proves last year was no illusion, as a lefty specialist he will continue to be able to find major league jobs until his left arm falls off.

2007 Bullpen Previews:
Jon Adkins
Adam Bostick
Ambiorix Burgos
Marcos Carvajal
Pedro Feliciano (This Article)
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Clint Nageotte
Juan Padilla
Chan Ho Park
Duaner Sanchez
Steve Schmoll
Scott Schoeneweis
Aaron Sele
Joe Smith
Jorge Sosa
Billy Wagner
Other Candidates
Four Other Names for You

2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (4)

We all know that relievers are a volatile collection, and that a pitcher you rely on one season might not warrant a roster spot the next year. I guess it is due to the bald fact that the pitchers in the bullpen are usually the most marginal talents on the staff; in many cases they only have to regress a fraction to lose all effectiveness.

That being said, it is curious that the Mets have spent so much energy coming up with alternatives to Feliciano, who pitched so well last year. Specifically, I agree with collecting usable pitching arms, but: a multi year contract for Scott Schoeneweis? That makes no sense to me, and almost seems like a slap at Feniciano.

But tell me, why would it be a slap at feliciano...if feliciano comes out and sucks it up next year? which is a very real possibility. It's not like this guy has a track record of success, in fact, he has the opposite of that. Sure, it'd be great for him to maintain his success from last year, but counting on it? please...try again. Why should Feliciano deserve any respect? beyond what he did last year, which should be what it was, ONE good year. You can't rely on that.

I'm reading these profiles Mike's been penning so well, and the impression I get is that, with a very few exceptions, spring training will be a pitchers' battle royale in Port St. Lucie.

No March that I can recall has begun with so many pitching question marks for the Mets, so many permutations of possibilities, both in the rotation and in the pen. This is not bad; you can never have too many pitchers, of course. It does mean that "meaningless" and "spring training game" shouldn't be uttered in the same sentence this year, at least not by anyone covering our team.

A three-inning long relief stint on March 6th could go a long way in determining who starts the season in The Show, and who starts it in N'Awleans.

As the Chinese curse goes, "May you live in interesting times". I do believe we're living in them now.

What wins championships? Pitching, pitching, pitching. Nowhere in the addage is there an exclusion of relief pitching. If reliable starting pitchers are hard to find in this market, there's no reason for Omar not to stock up the bullpen. And I believe that's what he is doing with the likes of Schoenneweis, Burgos, Adkins, etc. And in today's baseball, having depth and reliability in your bullpen may be just as important as having depth in the starting rotation.

Pedro Feliciano did an admirable job for us last year. In fact he has done well for the past 2 years. So, though he may face some competition for his job this year (never an unhealthy thing) I don't believe the signing of these other arms is a vote of no confidence for the guy. I imagine we will still see him in his usual role as 1/2 of the lefty/righty specialist combo, except with a new partner.

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