Why Waive Pat Misch?

Posted on March 31, 2010 by

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In a move that few will mourn, the Mets placed pitcher LHP Pat Misch on waivers, according to mlb.com. Misch was acquired on waivers from the Giants during the 2009 season and performed credibly in his brief time with the Mets. Used first as a reliever, Misch eventually worked his way into a starting role, where he spent the last six weeks of the season.

Let’s have some fun with some small sample size numbers. Here are the respective stats for Misch and Mike Pelfrey for the final seven starts of the 2009 season:

PM: 3-3, 4.69 ERA, 44 H, 9 BB, 10 Ks, 8 HR in 40.1 IP
MP: 1-4, 6.18 ERA, 57 H, 16 BB, 25 Ks, 9 HR in 43.2 IP

And here are the stats for the same two pitchers in Spring Training:

PM: 0-0, 1.38 ERA, 11 H, 7 BB, 8 Ks, 0 HR in 13 IP
MP: 0-3, 7.97 ERA, 34 H, 2 BB, 12 Ks, 8 HR in 20.1 IP

To be fair, Misch’s upside is probably what he did last season, when he posted a 4.12 ERA in 62.1 IP for the Mets. Misch is not overpowering, he’s not particularly effective versus LHB (.288/.341/.461 lifetime or virtually identical numbers to how he fared versus RHB) and what success he did enjoy last year came thanks to some good fortune, as he had a .270 BABIP and a 76.8 strand rate with the Mets.

Whether it was achieved with smoke and mirrors or not, I am surprised that the Mets are willing to cast away someone who enjoyed any kind of success last season. There was no room at Triple-A for Misch? He seems like the exact type of guy you want to have stashed away in the minors – a crafty veteran who won’t be fazed by pitching in the majors once one of the regular guys goes down with an injury or ineffectiveness.

One of the dirty secrets of the 2009 Mets is how well their replacement starters did. Most teams would be thrilled to get 5.00 ERA level performances from their reserve starting pitchers and the Mets did even better than that, with relatively strong performances from guys like Misch. I would have preferred him being a phone call away in Triple-A than being available for any club on the waiver wire.

Earlier I compared his stats with those of Pelfrey. The purpose of that was not to illustrate how great Misch is (because he’s not) but rather to show how dismal Pelfrey has been, and continues to be. The Mets are counting on Pelfrey to be one of the mainstays of their rotation, when the fact is that they should be preparing him for a move to the bullpen.

The reality is that Pelfrey has only one pitch, despite three years at a major college program, his first-round draft status and several years in the organization. Hoping that he will suddenly develop a useful, much less impact new pitch, is a case of wishful thinking.

Instead of converting Jenrry Mejia, a starting pitching prospect with a seemingly bright future, into a short reliever, the Mets would be better off moving Pelfrey, a player who seems to have stalled as a starter, into the new role. Perhaps only having to throw an inning at a time would allow Pelfrey to succeed with just one pitch and rediscover the strikeout numbers he had in the minors.

The bottom line is that there is very little reason to think Pelfrey is going to be a quality pitcher as a starter this season. Ideally, the Mets would have signed a free agent pitcher or two to accommodate more easily a move to the pen for Pelfrey. Given that they neglected to do that, the next best thing would be to have quality depth at Triple-A and that’s where Misch might have come in handy.

Maybe the Mets tried to do Misch a favor, releasing him now so that he could hook on with another club where he could compete for a starting job. I find that hard to believe, with the release coming here at the end of March. Either way, I hope fans join me in thanking Misch for the work he did last season and wish him well in his next stop.

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Posted in: Perspectives