What’s working for Mike Pelfrey through his first four appearances this season? The sample is small, but the improvements are large. Most notably, his pitch location has been sharp, and as he said after Tuesday's win, the splitter is making him a better pitcher.
Inside Edge does video review of every pitch thrown in the major leagues and compiles that information into a database. From that, we found:
Pelfrey has ended 13 plate appearances with a down-and-away fastball, and allowed only a single and two walks. Tuesday, he ended five at-bats with that pitch, and four more with his split-fingered fastball, yielding only two baserunners via those pitches. Perhaps most telling about the splitter: Inside Edge charts him with 10 thrown to a spot down-and-away. Hitters have swung at seven of those without yet getting a hit.
He’s ended nine plate appearances with a up-and-in fastball this season, and allowed only a single and a walk. That pitch was a trouble spot for Pelfrey previously, particularly in 2008, but not so yet in 2010.
Perhaps the best sign for Pelfrey. Of the 102 pitches Pelfrey threw to the Cubs, only one was given the location “middle-middle” (basically a meatball pitch) and it went for no harm. Last year, a typical Pelfrey start featured four such pitches, and not surprisingly, they get pasted (opponents hit .509 against them vs Pelfrey last season).
By adding the splitter, Pelfrey has made himself a less predictable pitcher, something we noted might have been on his mind this spring. He’s gone from throwing nearly 80 percent fastballs to throwing them about 68 percent of the time through three starts and a 20th-inning relief outing.
And the splitter is not just a two-strike weapon. Inside Edge counts 23 splitters for Pelfrey this season, 13 coming with two strikes, 10 with other counts.
David Wright’s strikeout total raised alarms last season, but he’s already done something this year whiff-wise that he didn’t do in 2009. Wright has struck out in seven consecutive games, and thanks to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index, we can tell you that’s one game shy of his career-worst, done previously in 2006 and 2008.
Wright remains one shy of Ed Kranepool’s Mets doubles record and it’s surprising he hasn’t reached the mark yet. In each of the last four seasons, Wright had at least three doubles through the team’s first 14 games. This season, he has just two.