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Quick Thoughts on Some Rotation Candidates

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I have seen Hisa Takahashi pitch a few times now and have been impressed. He is as advertised, a lefty who tops out in the high eighties, but he does a very good job of spotting his fastball and changing his speeds. The change looks like a plus pitch to me and his slow curve looks like at least an average offering too. He repeats his motion well and it has a bit of a pause in it which should help to serve fool batters too. Also like that he isn't afraid to throw that 88 mph fastball inside to righties. While it looks like he may start the year as a second lefty in the pen and could do an excellent job at it, it would not surprise me at all if he ends up in the rotation and making more than double digits in starts depending on the health of the Mets rotation.  My questions with Takahashi are – "will he keep the ball on the ground" and "how long can he fool them?" While I think he has what it takes to stay in the majors, his stuff and talent still says "end of the rotation, inning eater".

Speaking of Mets starters, you may have heard or read that Mike Pelfrey has added a new pitch – a split-finger fastball. The last time I remember a veteran adding that pitch, it was J.J. Putz. Putz had been a right-handed specialist reliever known for his plus fastball and slider, but lacked a changeup to combat lefties. It was the reason he converted from a minor league starter to reliever in the first place. The splitter, as well as improved command, gave him the ability to be an elite closer for a few years prior to injuring his elbow.

Pelfrey has already shown improved control the past two seasons with BB/9 of 2.9 and 3.2, but he has never had an out-pitch to go with his plus fastball and has two consecutive years of K/9 just on either side of 5.0. One of the major reasons for the lack of K/9 improvement – the hitters know what's coming. He has thrown his fastball close to or over 80|PERCENT| of the time each of the past two seasons and has thrown his change less – under 5|PERCENT| of the time while throwing his slider over 13|PERCENT|. If he can continue to show the same control of the past two seasons and greatly change how often and when he throws certain pitches, we might have something here, though I will continue to remain skeptical until he shows he can command both the splitter and his slider with some consistency.