Mike Pelfrey, Mets closer?
This almost certainly will not happen, but it was a possibility within the past week, when some team officials suggested converting Pelfrey to that role next season. The discussions went far enough that Pelfrey was included in them.
“Would you be willing to be the closer next year?” Terry Collins asked the pitcher, according to someone who was briefed on, but did not witness or participate in, the conversation.
Interesting. Of course, since we’re getting the news at least third-hand, there’s some chance this has been telephoned to death and Collins actually asked Pelfrey, “Is it thrilling to see the toaster in here?”
But assuming the conversation actually went down the way the article says it did, it’s a thought worth considering. Many Mets fans won’t believe this, but Pelfrey could very well make for a solid closer. Not only is that role overrated, but starters’ stats tend to improve dramatically when they move to bullpen roles. A pitcher like Pelfrey with a limited arsenal could likely dial up his fastball a notch and rely less on his shaky secondary pitches if he were used in shorter stints.
Except — and as Martino suggests later in the article — Pelfrey’s biggest value to the Mets lies in his durability, and his ability to throw 200 league-average innings every season probably helps the Mets’ bullpen as much as his presence would.
And of course, the first time closer-Pelf allowed a bloop single and a game-tying home run, armchair psychologists everywhere would rush to diagnose his obvious lack of the much-lauded closer mentality.
I covered this a few weeks ago: Unless Sandy Alderson suddenly and miraculously finds a whole host of healthy dudes ready to start games in the Majors by next season, Mets fans should probably prepare for another season with Mike Pelfrey in the rotation. Yes, he’s boring to watch on his best nights and woefully frustrating on his worst, and no, he hasn’t magically started pitching like an ace since the Mets made him their Opening Day starter in 2011.
He’s a guy, and the Mets’ rotation needs guys. Best-case scenario, midway through next season the Mets have four starters throwing better than Pelfrey and Jeurys Familia or Matt Harvey banging down the door from Triple-A, and they can try Pelfrey in the bullpen then. From here, though, it doesn’t seem likely the Mets will have five healthy guys better than Pelfrey to open 2012 in the big-league rotation.