Opinion: I'm Proud of Mike Pelfrey

I’m proud of Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey ended last season 28–32 through the first 82 games of his career.

Tom Glavine once told me it typically takes a pitcher around 80 or so career starts to really get a sense of himself, and to better understand his strengths and weaknesses, at which point the game starts to ‘click.’  Right now, the game is clicking for Pelfrey… there is no question about it. 

He is doing things physically different, be it using his fastball less, but also more effectively, all while introducing new pitches and sequences – it also helps that his team is playing very good defense behind him, something which was not the case last season.  In fact, this year, only Roy Halladay and Jon Garland have had more double plays turned behind them than Pelfrey.

However, I am most impressed with his poise and confidence on the mound.  He said he was overthrowing a bit earlier in the game last night, as his adrenaline was pumping and he was excited for the start.  Yet, he was able to ‘dial it back,’ as they say, and keep his focus.  In addition, there were several moments during the game last night in which Pelfrey might have imploded last season.  He would’ve panicked.  He would have delayed getting to the mound, licking his hand, removing his cap, shaking his head, etc.  But last night, he’d get the ball, step to the mound and get to work, and, cool as cool can be, he’d make his pitch, get his ground ball, and end the inning.  He did this three innings in a row… never losing focus.

Earlier this week, I had a player on the Mets tell me that, much like when Johan Santana takes the mound, his teammates arrive to the ballpark extra confident and excited to ‘compete with Mike.’  This was never the case before.

In the off season, I had a long talk with Pelfrey at Citi Field.  He was bright-eyed, full of smiles, and beaming with confidence, talking emphatically about how last season was an aberration for the Mets, how they had more talent than people were giving them credit for, and how he was going to have a better season.  Frankly, I chalked his demeanor up to being yet another over-confident athlete, dropping cliche after cliche.  But, in terms of accomplishing your goals, maybe there is something to be said about mental focus, confidence and believing in yourself.  Because, right now, Pelfrey is not just pitching like a different person, his entire way is different.

Mike Pelfrey is 7–1 this season in 10 starts this season, during which the Mets are 9–2.