Mike Pelfrey‘s FIP has actually stayed pretty steady over the last four years, and his xFIP was even steadier. The main difference being that he game up less home runs in 2008 and 2010. So the question becomes what was it that caused the home run rate to be lower in those years? Was it dumb luck, or some adjustments on Pelfrey’s part? Personally I think his xFIP staying the same is precisely what’s wrong with the stat. Pelfrey clearly pitched better in 2010, particularly in the first part of the year, than he has since.
There probably still is some luck to it. The margin of error for flying out instead of hitting a home run is tiny. Optimistically, Mike Pelfrey’s numbers in 2011 were probably at the far end of bad luck and it’d be pretty easy to see how even with changing almost nothing he’d probably have a better result in 2012. Hoping for lucky bounces is not a good philosophy for a major league pitch to adopt however.
Pelfrey is working hard this Spring at his sinker. This is something he admittedly struggled with in 2011, and harnessing it against should be a positive. For one, it’s a different look than teams are used to. Adding in a pitch provides a new wrinkle to the scouting report and helps keep hitters off balance. Additionally, sinkers are harder to hit out of the park as they are harder to hit in the air. So far the reports are positive on his feel for the pitch.
With luck and the sinker, Mike Pelfrey should be an improved pitcher again in 2012. Throw in a likely improved bullpen and more of Pelfrey’s games should turn into Mets wins. That only happened 12 of 33 times last season.