Monday, March 24, 2014

25-Man Roster Dissection: Mike Pelfrey

Minnesota's front office knew it needed to address some of their pitching woes during the off-season. Enter in three free agent pitchers and suddenly the Twins had some semblance of a major league pitching staff. Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Kevin Correia will be asked to man the front of the rotation while players like Mike Pelfrey, Kyle Gibson, and Scott Diamond will fight over the back-end.

The new faces in the rotation are a welcome sign for Twins Territory. During the last couple seasons, the rotation has been a mess and the bullpen has been overused. Minnesota should be getting closer back to respectability this season but a lot will depend on the starter's performance. If the rotation fails to live up to expectations, the Twins could be looking at another 90-loss season.

2013 Recap: 5.19 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 101 SO, 53 BB (152.1 IP)
In his first season back following Tommy John surgery, things weren't all flowers and roses for Mr. Pelfrey. He shifted to the American League for the first time in his career and there were some struggles along the way. His ERA was over half a run higher than his career average and his WHIP was higher than 1.50 for only the second time in a full season. According to FanGraphs version of WAR, Pelfrey was the most valuable pitcher for the Twins last season. He tied Kevin Correia for the team lead with 101 strikeouts but he did it in 30 fewer innings. There can be some issues with control for pitchers coming back from Tommy John but he didn't seem to be a ton of control problems for Pelfrey. His BB/9 rate was close to his career mark and his SO/9 was the highest of his career.

Forecasting 2014: 4.58 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 90 SO, 46 BB (144.0 IP)
With some of the other men out of options, Pelfrey might have been the Twins most surprising free agent signing this off-season. However, it is always good to have pitching depth and pitchers tend to improve in their second full season back from Tommy John surgery. Out of the top four starters currently slated to be in the rotation, Pelfrey would be the most likely to be removed for poor performances or because of the emergence of a younger pitcher. If Alex Meyer or Trevor May are in the midst of a hot stretch, either one of them could get the call from Triple-A. By the end of the season, Pelfrey's starts might be getting skipped over for some of the younger men in the rotation. Injuries can always impact a starting rotation. Look for Pelfrey to play more of a role if one of the other starters gets hurt.

25-Man Roster Safety: Loosely Locked-In

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