Mike Pelfrey is the defacto ace of the Mets staff. And, while he’s not elite or anything, he showed in 2010 that he can be a dependable starter. Which is nuts considering that, as the Daily News reports, he pitched most of the 2010 season with a messed up shoulder:
“I had a strained rotator cuff and a strained posterior capsule almost the whole season,” Pelfrey told the Daily News Thursday, a day before making his first Opening Day start Friday night against Florida. The 27-year-old righty is ready to be the Mets’ ace, a leadership role that he relished even as the No. 2 guy last year, when he decided to pitch through pain.
Based on the article it doesn’t seem as though Pelfrey or the team was risking anything health-wise by letting him pitch through it, but he certainly was in pain. Notable, though, is that his season splits aren’t dramatic. His first half was better, but the second half was still pretty good. His strikeout rate went down, but he became a bit more stingy with the walks. Even his second half was an improvement over anything he did in 2009.
The Mets biggest weakness this year is the rotation. If they’re going to have any shot to make a go of it in 2011, they’ll need Pelfrey to anchor the staff. That’s no given, but assuming he’s feeling better this year than he did last year, it’s not a long shot either.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.