Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mike Pelfrey vs. Phil Hughes

Mike Pelfrey: Will he return or move on?
Another outwardly slow day for The Twins at the Winter Meetings.

I should perhaps note here that I'm not actually at the Winter Meetings. I'm freezing in Mankato and reacting to the reports from the reporters who are in Orlando. But if' the Twitter feeds are any indication -- Mike Bernadino of the Pioneer Press was comparing Chapel Hill, N.C., and Columbia, Mo, as college towns for a while Tuesday-- it's been slow.

Part of what's going on, the Twins are willing to admit, is waiting for Mike Pelfrey to make a decision.

The idea of bringing Pelfrey back probably does not delight many fans. Pelfrey was part of the problem in 2013: 5-13, 5.19 ERA, just 152.2 innings in 28 starts, less than six innings a start.

Of course, it was his first season back from Tommy John surgery, and he probably wasn't really ready to pitch in the majors as soon as he did. Still, even before he popped his elbow ligament while with the Mets, he was a low-strikeout guy with indifferent control who relied on getting ground balls.

It's who he is. Pelfrey at his best — the Pelfrey of 2008 or 2010 — could be a third or fourth starter for a playoff team. But he's nobody's ace.

Supposedly the Twins have offered Pelfrey a two-year deal at $5 million a year. And it certainly hasn't escaped the attention of Pelfrey's agent, the notorious Scott Boras, that

  • Phil Hughes had similar results in 2013 (4-14, 5.19, 145 innings) and 
  • the Twins gave him three years at $8 million.

Of course, there are other issues involved here. Pelfrey averaged 3.1 walks and 6.0 strikeouts per nine innings; Hughes walked 2.6 per nine and whiffed 7.5. Pelfrey, as noted in a previous post, threw strikes on 61 percent of his pitches; Hughes threw strikes on 67 percent.

And, of course, Hughes did his work with Yankee Stadium as his home office, while Pelfrey had the more forgiving Target Field.

The results were similar, but Hughes's process was better. Of the two, Hughes is the better bet to post improved numbers going forward. The Twins are justified in valuing him above Pelfrey.


  1. I hope you right,are but I don't know why people think Hughes is a better bet going forward than Pelfrey. Hughes wasn't injured or recovering from TJ surgery, he was just as bad as Pelfrey without any excuses. Maybe getting out of New York helps and a different home park helps, but he better pitch a lot better than he has for several years. At this point I think Hughes is no better bet than a couple of other 5th starter options the Twins have to be an effective pitcher in 2014.

  2. Pretty obvious, really. Hughes has a much lower walk rate, much higher strikeout rate, higher percentage of strikes thrown. Even before Pelfrey's injury, he was a low-strikeout guy with uncertain command.