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Wednesday's Game Notes

Mike SteffanosWednesday, March 14, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


Sorry, today got away from me. A very busy day with the paying job. Here are some thoughts on today's game:

With all the uncertainty over the starting rotation, John Maine continues to give every indication he is ready to justify the confidence Omar Minaya places on him. After allowing a leadoff homer to Curtis Granderson and a single to #2 hitter Ivan Rodriguez, Maine settled down and pitched 4 strong innings. The only other Tiger baserunners were Granderson again with a third inning single and a 2-out walk to Carlos Guillen that same inning.

Maine's pitching line: 4IP, 1ER, 3H, 4K, 1BB

Mike Pelfrey allowed only a single run in his 4 innings of work, but it was a lot tougher. Despite allowing 6 hits and a walk in his 4 innings of work, the only run off Pelfrey came when Marcus Thames hit a wind-blown home run in the eighth, Pelfrey's final inning of work. According to John Delcos on his LoHud Mets blog, Pelfrey admitted to struggling with control of his fastball. Delcos quotes the young right-hander on his performance:

It was one of those days when my fastball command wasn't there. I threw more sliders and change-ups.

I actually think it's a good sign that Pelfrey was able to hold the Tigers to one run in 4 innings without his best fastball. A sign of maturity in a pitcher is being effective without your best stuff. This from Ben Shpigel of the New York Times says it all:

Pelfrey's pitching line: 4 innings, 1 earned run, 6 hits, 1 homer, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 hit batsmen. On the surface, it looks rather ordinary. Now consider this: From the moment Pelfrey started warming up in the bullpen, he realized that he didn't have a good fastball. For a pitcher like Pelfrey who has such a nasty heater, not having your fastball working would be akin to Shaquille O'Neal being expected to score 30 points while not setting foot in the paint. Pitchers like Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux could get by because their secondary pitches are so excellent. It's much harder for power pitchers who rely on their fastball, especially those who are 23 years old and have 4 major-league starts on their resume.

Everyone from Randolph to Omar Minaya to David Wright to Mike DiFelice raves about how, in less than a year, Pelfrey has evolved from a hard-throwing prospect to an actual pitcher. Pelfrey relied on his change-up and his slider. He junked his curveball toward the end of last season in favor of the slider because, coming out of his hand, a hitter thinks it's a fastball. That's what Carlos Guillen must have thought when he swung wildly at a two-strike slider in the seventh inning.

The offense was pathetic as Kenny Rogers and 4 other pitchers shut them out on 5 hits. You know things are bad when Mike DiFelice was the offensive star with a pair of hits. Carlos Beltran's double was the only extra-base hit for the Mets. David Wright and Moises Alou had the other hits.

The Mets face the Red Sox tomorrow in St. Lucie, so we'll be able to catch Oliver Perez in an important start. Charlie Nobles has a nice article on Perez on Mets.com.

By the way, Pat from Shea Faithful has an interview with 2006 Mets eighteenth round pick Ritchie Price, an infielder from the University of Kansas.

Hopefully back to normal posting tomorrow.

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 (2)

It's nice to see what sort of performances are possible from young talent when you put a little faith in them. I hope both keep it up all spring (and year for that matter) because there's a good chance they'll be 2/5ths of the starting rotation for much of the season.

It's very encouraging to see Pelfrey execute with his breaking stuff when his fastball isn't there. There's no greater test of a pitcher's ability to use secondary pitches than not having your primary to rely upon. It would be great to see him take off from this point and never look back.

18 more days.

The Mets' starting rotation is going to be all right. And the decision to place a limit on how much they would give Barry Zito is looking pretty good at the moment.

B'rer Humber will right himself and arrive from New Orleans sometime around June, and the Mets will be set on the mound. Come late July we all will celebrate Pedro Day.

Equally important to my thinking, the Mets have competent pitchers to run out there when Hernandez pulls something or if Perez fails to settle in. This starting rotation competition is actually a case of many starters available, not a shortfall that the team has to address by starting Braden Looper or something. This year, no starts will have to be given to marginal characters like Matt Ginter, Ishii, Geremi Gonzales or Victor Zambrano; it won't be necessary, not with Vargas and Humber waiting their turns.

That's how you keep your team in contention, I'm thinking; by not giving away games. If any games are "given away" this year, it will happen early, and be based on who has or doesn't have an minor league option left. Here's hoping that doesn't figure too strongly.

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