During the early portion of the season and up until the start of June, many analysts—including myself—were calling for the Minnesota Twins to remove Mike Pelfrey from the starting rotation and demote the veteran to Triple-A; however, as of late, Pelfrey has begun to show signs of the pitcher that the Twins had hoped for when they signed him and the results speak for themselves. On Wednesday night, Pelfrey again pitched well by holding the Philadelphia Phillies to five hits and three runs while striking out seven and walking one over seven solid innings to lead the Twins to a 4-3 victory and their second in a row.
Pelfrey’s last three starts have been a welcomed change for the Twins’ pitching staff and it may have given Pelfrey the kind of security and confidence that he needs to remain with the club for the rest of the season. Over his last three starts, Pelfrey has given up an even three runs in each start and has pitched into the sixth inning in every start. While those stats may not be overwhelming or even impressive, they signal a drastic change from the performances that Pelfrey was giving the Twins earlier on this season.
April was by far his worst month when he accumulated a 7.66 ERA in 22.1 innings, but Pelfrey improved in May with a 5.90 ERA over 29 innings and after two starts in the month of June is sporting a 4.05 ERA over 13.1 innings. What you can see from the statistics is not only a drop in the ERA of Pelfrey, but you can also notice that the number of innings pitched is also going up which shows that Pelfrey is beginning to work later into ballgames. Those are both important things to keep an eye on as Pelfrey continues to pitch during the month of June and beyond.
Pelfrey is recovering from Tommy John surgery and still isn’t all the way back to the form he had before he suffered his injury, but Pelfrey is beginning to show signs that he is getting closer and closer to returning to form with each and every start. If the Twins can get the Pelfrey of old to return, they will have found themselves a pitcher who can consistently go six innings and hold opponents to three or four runs which would be a welcomed addition to this pitching rotation. Hopefully for the Twins, Pelfrey’s latest starts are a sign of better things to come; however, I am not sure if these latest starts are signaling a turnaround or are a product of struggling and injury-ridden lineups. The alternative option of Pelfrey in the rotation would likely be Kyle Gibson and I am not sure if Pelfrey’s strong outings will hinder the ability of the Twins to promote Gibson, but I do think that Gibson has more to offer to a big-league rotation than what Pelfrey can in the long-run this season; however, that’s not to say that Pelfrey can’t offer a valuable contribution to the Twins as well.
While I may still have my doubts, it is good to see Pelfrey start to show the promise and potential that the Twins had hoped for when they signed him. Let’s hope that this string of good outings can be improved on so Pelfrey and the Twins can continue to win more ballgames and creep their way back into contention.