Mike Pelfrey is coming off his 3rd excellent start in a row. Back on April 9th, he went 6 innings, allowing 2 earned runs and 8 baserunners to go with 4 strikeouts in a victory. He followed that up on April 15th with a 7 inning victory in Colorado where he struck out 6, allowed no runs, and only 5 baserunners. He was even called on to pitch in that 20 inning nightmare that the Mets ended up winning, where he actually got a save. After his victory last night over the Cubs (7 IP, 6 K, 0 ER, 6 BR), he now has 3 wins, an 0.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings. Is this performance for real, or are we looking at something completely different?
Pelfrey made his major league debut in 2006, getting 4 starts near the end of the season. He came up again midway through 2007, making 15 appearances and 13 starts. A fixture in the rotation these last 2 seasons, Pelfrey made 32 and 31 starts, respectively. His 2008 season was very solid, as he posted a 3.72 ERA and a 13-11 record over 200 innings. Pelfrey has never really been known as a strikeout pitcher though, as he has never posted a K/9 rate over 5.57 in the Majors. Also, his BB/9 rate has never been below 2.87, so he's not necessarily a massive control pitcher either.
My thoughts after the jump...
While his K/9 rate is currently a bit higher than his career has shown (6.86 in 2010), his walk rate is well within range for his career (3.43 in 2010). Pelfrey has shown potential previously, posting a 3.72 ERA and a 3/96 FIP in 2008. Some of his peripheral statistics tell me that he may be due for a bit of regression.
Pelfrey's BABIP so far is at .231, well below his career range of .300-.320. Also, he has stranded 90.5% of runners to this point, a 20% jump from his career average of 70%. While neither of these things are particularly surprising considering how low his ERA is to this point, they are worth noting in that you will have some regression toward his mean.
That said, I think we may be finally seeing the Mike Pelfrey that has been promised for so long. I could very well see him post a season line of 14 wins, a 3.75 ERA, 130 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.25-1.30 over 200 innings.