The Reemergence of Twins SP Mike Pelfrey

Lowering your ERA to 6.12 shouldn't be a cause for celebration, but in Mike Pelfrey's case...

Okay, let me preface this column with a brief comment: YES, I realize how incredibly depressing it is to say that a starter is showing “marked improvement” for lowering his ERA to 6.12. With the Minnesota Twins starting staff, it’s all relative. JUST LET ME PRETEND THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Inside Mike Pelfrey's Numbers

Now, onto the curious case of Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey is playing his first season removed from Tommy John surgery, and, as is typical in this situation, he was pretty brutal his first few times out. Pelfrey started the year 2-3 with a 7.66 ERA in the month of April. With those stats, he probably would have been the No. 2 starter in the Twins rotation last year.

May was a bit kinder to Pelfrey. Sure, the Twins still lost five out of his six starts, but bad things happen when you give a guy 3.16 runs of support per start. Pelfrey finished the month 1-3 with a 5.90 ERA. Progress? Meeeeeeeeh.

In the month of June, however, Pelfrey has actually been more than serviceable. In his first two starts this month, Pelfrey has had his two longest outings of the season (6.1 innings on June 6th and 7 on Wednesday). In each of those starts, he has allowed three earned runs, earning him quality starts numbers three and four on the season. And he even had seven strikeouts in his seven innings on Wednesday, bringing his K/9 to an Earth-shattering 4.87.

The key for Pelfrey is all in his GB/FB ratio. In his first start of the season, Pelfrey went 5.1 innings, allowing two unearned runs on five hits. His GB/FB ratio was 2.33. In his next 10 starts, that ratio shrank drastically to 0.65, and the Twins lost eight of those games.

In the month of June, Pelfrey is getting groundballs again. In his two starts, that ratio is at 1.93, which is actually above his career ratio of 1.53. I know, it’s shocking to hear that a sinkerballer does better when he gets ground balls, but PITCH, DON’T KILL MY VIBE.

Pelfrey first started heavily throwing that sinker back in 2010, his arguably best season where he was 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA with the Mets. Now, it looks like that sinker is finally being effective again. If Pelfrey can maintain the improvement and the progress, he has shown over his last two starts, the 29-year-old could end up sticking around and contributing to this team beyond 2013.

Jim Sannes covers baseball and the Minnesota Twins weekly for numberFire. Contact him on Twitter @JimSannes.