I have to give a big time shoutout to Brooklyn Met Fan, whose innocuous nickname for Mike Pelfrey has turned into a rallying cry for this team over the past 2 1/2 months, as Mike Pelfrey has gone from a potential journeyman into the potential ace we thought he'd be. I got one of those shirts. It makes its debut next Monday night against Houston.
This metamorphosis continued tonight, as Big Pelf pistolwhipped Gregor Blanco and the rest of the Braves en route to his first Major League Complete Game, a feat which he might have been due in a couple of other instances earlier this season, but finally nailed down tonight.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for Pelfrey, and perhaps the biggest "lost" story for the Mets this season. In early June, Pelfrey was, I believe, 1-6 and on the fast track to the Minor Leagues, future unknown. But since that point, Pelfrey has gone 11-2, and more often than not, he's just been flat out dominant. I even went so far as to snag him off the waiver wire in my Fantasy League after the Arizona game, and took a couple of snide remarks about how "It won't last." Well, now I'm the one laughing. Pelfrey should be laughing too. This season to this point has turned into his own personal coming out party, and he's picked up the slack for guys like Maine and Pedro, who have been injured and/or inconsistent for most of the season.
In the two outings I referenced earlier, Pelfrey had had the opportunity to put it all together for himself, and not only finish off the game, but finish off a shutout of his opponent as well. Against Arizona, in the now-legendary game of June 11th, Pelfrey started the 9th inning with a 3-run lead, having thrown 109 pitches, and with Wagner throwing, he would certainly be done at the onset of trouble. Stephen Drew singled on the 2nd pitch of the inning, and that was it for Pelfrey. Although I had a heated argument with El Guapo about whether this was the right move, it was moot. Wagner was coming in. And by the time Wagner was done, Pelfrey's shutout and victory had vanished over the left field wall, a standout performance that was long forgotten by the end of the night.
The second such outing was about a month later, on July 13th against the Rockies. I was at this game as well, one of the Sunday Night Spectacles on the eve of the All-Star Break. Tonight, it wasn't the bullpen faltering, it was his inability to put away Colorado's #8 hitter, Omar Quintanilla, that forced Pelfrey to run his pitch count up to 119 by the end of the 8th inning, making it wholly impractical for him to run out for the 9th, even though Colorado really hadn't made much of a peep against him.
So, we arrive at tonight, when Pelfrey finally put together that complete effort, mixing his pitches well, keeping men off base, keeping the damage to a minimum, and most importantly, keeping his pitch count manageable, to the point that Pelfrey began the 9th inning having thrown 97 pitches, a number that would almost certainly mean he would get the shot to finish the deal. Yes, the bullpen was ready. Yes, he fell behind Larry 3-0, but he rebounded to freeze him on a pretty straight fastball, and followed up by getting McCann and Kotsay to pop out to left, and that was that. Mike Pelfrey, welcome to the big time. You held the line and save the bullpen for the evening. Congratulations. Hopefully, this is a feat oft-repeated down the stretch this season.
3 Complete Games in the past month? 2 CGs this week?? What the hell is going on here?!?