Of all the weird and awesome things that transpired in last night’s Mets walk-off win over Washington, perhaps nothing was stranger than Mike Pelfrey’s 5 2/3 inning performance. Big Pelf, he of the fastballs and the stubborn 1.62 K:BB ratio, struck out eight Nationals and walked only one.
What’s more, after relying mostly on his sinker in the early innings, he threw tons of sliders late, and induced an atypical amount of swinging strikes with it.
This is almost certainly an odd Pelfrey blip isolated because it’s his first start of the season, classic small sample size stuff. But the differences in his PitchFX pages from this year and last year on the great TexasLeaguers.com are hilariously stark. FF is for four-seam fastballs, SI is sinkers, SL is sliders, FS is split-fingers, CU is curveballs and CH is changeups.
Here’s Pelfrey last year:
I was surprised to learn that Pelfrey threw 35.3% offspeed stuff in 2011, given what I had in my head about Pelfrey and his fastballs. So I checked back through the archive there. Look at this:
In 2008, Mike Pelfrey threw 18.6% offspeed pitches. In 2009, he threw 22.2% offspeed pitches. In 2010, he threw 30.9% offspeed stuff. In 2011, he threw 35.3% offspeed stuff. Then last night, he threw 39.4% offspeed stuff.
Last night’s swinging strikes may be atypical, but the increase in pitches that aren’t fastballs (or sinkers) could just reflect the continuation of a remarkably steady career trend. And even more remarkably, the results for Pelfrey — at least the defense-independent ones — have stayed pretty consistent. The pitcher has evolved and the results have not.
Which is to say: Pelf be Pelfing.