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  • Time to Put Pelf on the Shelf

    In a season where he's largely stayed in the good graces of the fan base, Ron Gardenhire finally awakened the critics on Monday night.

    With the Twins leading Detroit 3-1 and angling for a big win to kick off their treacherous road trip, Gardenhire sent Mike Pelfrey out to pitch the sixth inning despite the fact that the starter had pretty clearly been surviving on smoke and mirrors all night. Pelfrey had not struck out a single hitter and, in the previous inning, had only managed to work around a single and triple by inducing a hard-hit ground ball double play.

    Pelfrey took the mound in the sixth and imploded against the middle of the Detroit lineup, allowing an infield single, a walk and then a go-ahead three-run homer to Prince Fielder.

    Finally the bullpen took over and did its thing, holding the Tigers scoreless the rest of the way, But the damage was done and the Twins sustained one of their toughest losses of the season.

    Pelfrey's meltdown seemed all too inevitable given the way he's pitched this year. He has failed to complete six innings in any of his five starts, he is allowing, on average, nearly two base runners per inning, opponents are hitting .356 against him, and he has a 7.66 ERA. Pelfrey has never been a huge strikeout guy, but he has managed to fan only seven of the 108 batters he has faced this season, giving him the lowest rate in the majors by a fairly wide margin.

    In light of those numbers, it strikes me that the issue isn't Gardenhire crossing his fingers and trying to squeeze another inning out of the right-hander. The issue is that Pelfrey is on the big-league roster to begin with.

    When the veteran returned to the mound back on April 4th, just 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery, I marveled at the accomplishment, even if he didn't look very good. It was a great story. It still is a great story; after rocketing through his recovery, Pelfrey has taken the mound every five days, battling and throwing strikes. He claims to feel fine and his velocity is back, close to where it was prior to surgery. Those are real positives.

    But those positives don't mask the fact that Pelfrey clearly does not have what it takes to consistently retire major-league hitters right now. He can't throw past anyone and opponents are putting the ball in the air at an unprecedented rate. Many of his outs are hard-hit liners. Parker pointed out last week the numerous issues present in the righty's game.

    Surely the Twins are aware of these issues, and they can't be thrilled with the lack of progress on Monday night even if Pelfrey did manage to dance through five innings before falling apart. I have faith that over time Pelf will improve the lacking aspects of his game as he moves further away from the surgery (which took place one year ago today). However, letting that process play out in the majors, where it's costing the team games, is not acceptable.

    With Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson waiting for a chance in Triple-A while Samuel Deduno inches closer to returning from a groin injury, the Twins have options available that make a lot more sense at the moment, whether the goal is to win now or cultivate for the future.

    A demotion to Triple-A until Pelfrey proves ready is a seemingly obvious baseball decision. The fact that he's a good story (and, by all accounts, a good guy) shouldn't cloud that.
    This article was originally published in blog: Time to Put Pelf on the Shelf started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 66 Comments
    1. AScheib50's Avatar
      AScheib50 -
      I feel like him being a "good guy" who has taken an interest in the younger guys will carry him further than he should be allowed to go. I like the fact that he is willing to work with younger guys and is a good teammate. But like you wrote, Nick, he isn't getting outs...thus he should work on that somewhere other than the Major Leagues. Who knows maybe the Twins are waiting for De Vries or Deduno to get healthy first...I'm all for one of those guys getting a shot first before Hendriks gets another...but that's a whole other topic, eh?
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Yep he's gotta go down, for awhile at least. Let's see what Gibsons got if Devries or Deduno aren't healthy anyway. Didn't mind Gardy sending him out for the 6th so much as leaving him out there to face Fielder with 2 men on. Pretty risky and obviously, in hind sight, not smart. Hopefully he completes his comeback someday but right now he's a liability.
    1. adjacent's Avatar
      adjacent -
      Well, after tonight may be we need two of DeVries, Gibson, Deduno, etc. In the case of Pelfrey, maybe is still the lack of control after surgery. But in the case of Worley, he says he is fine, but you can see from the TV that his pitches are very hittable. Everything is thigh high.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      I don't know how Hendricks, and his performance this year in Rocester, warrants consideration at all at this point!
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Hendriks might not, but Gibson does. While we're at it, can we swap Worley for Deduno when he's ready?
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      I like Pelfrey very much, but he just isn't performing at the major league level right now. It's time to give Gibson an extended look up north.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Hendriks might not, but Gibson does. While we're at it, can we swap Worley for Deduno when he's ready?
      I agree, I'd like to see Deduno up with the club as well. Worley can be a contributer for years, but he has to get it together first.
    1. bear333's Avatar
      bear333 -
      Quote Originally Posted by troyhobbs View Post
      Yep he's gotta go down, for awhile at least. Let's see what Gibsons got if Devries or Deduno aren't healthy anyway. Didn't mind Gardy sending him out for the 6th so much as leaving him out there to face Fielder with 2 men on. Pretty risky and obviously, in hind sight, not smart. Hopefully he completes his comeback someday but right now he's a liability.
      Pelfrey is getting better but he still is only good for five. He was lucky to get out of the fifth and should not have been brought out for the sixth. Gardy screwed that one up and lost the game, not Palfrey, Pelfrey was done for the night. There is no one else to bring up yet so talking about sending Pelfrey down makes no sense. Worley looks worse at this point. He is the one that should go down first but not until someone can come up and do better and that is not Hendricks. It would help if the M&M boys would hit like they are paid to. Could be a frustrating year. They really are close to being good and much better than last year. A fan can only be so patient and we have all been very patient. Thank God KC has been pitching so well. I guess time will tell. We are all praying that the help that is on its way does not wait too long.
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      I still don't understand why gardy does not stick with a five man rotation because of all thess ppds we only see worley and pelfrey. Reset the rotation have diamond,correria,hernadez 123 so when devries, deduno, or gibson is ready, we can slot them in.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Hendriks might not, but Gibson does. While we're at it, can we swap Worley for Deduno when he's ready?
      Here are some fun numbers:

      FIP: Worley 4.59, Pelfrey 4.58, Hernandez 4.58
      BABIP: Worley .396, Pelfrey .370, Hernandez .250

      Small sample size in a much colder than usual April. The tide will turn. Hard to make conclusions after 5 games. The Twins did the same last season with Marquis and gave up too early and then he started putting numbers similar to the top two Twins' pitchers last season (4.04, 1.302 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.82 K/BB )
      Give it some time.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      The thing about this that doesn't work is his one year contract. If he isn't producing now there really isn't a payoff for the Twins in letting him "rehab" at the major league level because he is not likely to be here next year. He's valuable to the Twins only if he can produce now, not next year. That's much different than Worley who they have a vested interest in.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I wonder if Gardenhire ran him out there to force a decision. Either Pelfrey can pitch a decent six inning game or he can't. Running out of steam in the fifth inning of every game (or earlier) isn't acceptable in the Major Leagues.

      I'd be surprised if he sticks in the rotation if he throws another clunker in his next start.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      For all the recent optimism this thread should be a reminder of one of our biggest issue and the likely culprit for any falling off the team has. Just wait until the wheels fall off Correia....it could get ugly.

      but yeah, said the same thing about Pelfrey two weeks ago. Guy should still be rehabbing more than trying to cut it her.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Agreed. Pelfrey needs to work, but not at the mlb level until he finds better movement. Meanwhile, bring up Hendriks or Gibson for a cup of coffee.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I wonder if Gardenhire ran him out there to force a decision. Either Pelfrey can pitch a decent six inning game or he can't. Running out of steam in the fifth inning of every game (or earlier) isn't acceptable in the Major Leagues.

      I'd be surprised if he sticks in the rotation if he throws another clunker in his next start.
      I think Gardy is notorious for that. He will push guys and if they can perform he gives them a little more leash, and if they fail he tightens the knot. I have felt that this is his management style. I don't disagree with it all the time, but when you have a chance to win a game against the best team in the division you should probably just try to get that win.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by bear333 View Post
      Pelfrey is getting better but he still is only good for five. He was lucky to get out of the fifth and should not have been brought out for the sixth. Gardy screwed that one up and lost the game, not Palfrey, Pelfrey was done for the night.
      If Pelfrey is done for the night after five innings and ~80 pitches then he shouldn't be in the majors, which is basically my entire point.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Why not? In the era of 12-13 pitchers on a staff, with guys that can go up and down from AAA, why can't you have a guy that is good* for 5 innings, but can't go further?

      *note, I am responding to the "if he can't go more than 5 innings" concept, not if Pelfrey can even be good or not.....
    1. LewFordLives's Avatar
      LewFordLives -
      I concur with Linus. Pelfrey is not in the Twins long term plans and if he's not effective then they should consider sending him to Rochester or eating the rest of his contract and parting ways. It was an experiment that seems to be failing. It happens. Let's move on. Once they're healthy, we need to see what guys like DeVries and Deduno can do and whether we can count on them for the future.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      With regards to Gardy's decision to send him back out there, its easy to see everything clearly after the fact but I do tend to agree that he is too conservative on making a change. Its happened a couple times already. The thing that drives me nuts is when the rationale is "its his game, he deserved to go out there for the (plug in the inning)". What about his teammates? Don't they deserve the best possible chance to win? Isn't that more important than stroking some starters ego?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      DeVries? We know what he is...a reliever.
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