Four of six on the road from a pair of division leaders in the big, bad American League? We’d all have taken it. Over .500 at the halfway point of the season? Back when we were 5-13 we would have taken that too.
Someone was going to get hung with an L after four inspiring Ws. Someone was going to come up short. Someone was going to draw a pitcher like Justin Verlander, who’s pretty awesome even when he’s not having his finest day at the office.
And yet, I wish I were surprised that the someone was Mike Pelfrey.
I have an unfortunate tendency as a fan to find some Met each year and conclude it’s all his fault. A few years ago it was Shawn Green. Then Luis Castillo pretty much owned that niche. Now, I fear I’m grooming Pelfrey for the role.
This isn’t fair, of course. Pelf isn’t a No. 1 pitcher — he’s just playing one on a depleted team in transition. But having been assigned that temporary status, he’s managed to be the Mets’ least-reliable starter, and the problems we’re witnessing aren’t new. He can’t seem to harness his stuff. Or he doesn’t seem to trust it even when he can, nibbling and subbing pitches and abandoning them willy-nilly. He gets spooked and loses his composure. He winds up with weird splits that get people talking about needing to pitch at home and doing better with a personal catcher. Psychological stuff, in other words. You get the feeling that, like Victor Zambrano, a lot of confrontations are lost in Pelfrey’s head before his arm has anything to do with it.
I know, I know, the Met bats were largely silent in the two games Pelf lost. And yeah, they put up a good effort against Verlander but came up empty — things seemed to go wrong as early as Jose Reyes getting caught off second on Jason Pridie’s little pop. It happens. But again, were you surprised it happened to Pelf?
He seems like a decent guy, a guy who works hard, and all the rest. He said the right things today, noting that both losses on the road trip went on his ledger. I wish him the best, but I keep thinking his best may not be extractable by these coaches and this organizational philosophy and this uniform. He might be best served pitching somewhere else, where someone else could peer into his head and figure out how to connect everything up.