Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Mike Pelfrey is getting close to locking down a spot in the starting rotation. The right hander is ten months removed from Tommy John surgery, an operation that usually takes 12-18 months for full recovery. Don’t tell Pelfrey that. The lanky starter just finished his second consecutive scoreless outing in Spring Training, striking out five Boston Red Sox in three innings.
Pelfrey had a little trouble in the first, facing six hitters and wriggling out of the inning without any damage. After that, he began relying on his sinker and pitched an efficient second and third inning allowing only two hits on the day. It was encouraging to see Pelfrey, who is still working on improving his stamina, get stronger as he went deeper into his outing.
Heading into this spring, there were several question marks regarding the Twins’ pitching staff. When the exhibition games started, most people believed there were two spots available in the Twins’ starting rotation. But if Pelfrey continues to pitch effective, pain free outings, he will certainly lock up one of those two spots.
Twins fans should be cautiously optimistic with Pelfrey. The Ohio native, like many sinkerballers, has great or terrible outings based on the effectiveness of the sinker. This inconsistency is evident in Pelfrey’s career with the New York Mets where he had some great years and some mediocre years. He is also making the move to the American League–a transition that isn’t always kind to pitchers.
With that said, Twins’ fans should focus on the positive which is that Pelfrey is ahead of schedule and looking quite effective thus far. If he can increase his workload and maintain his effectiveness over 5-6 innings, it appears the Twins have found a very promising back end starter.