Unusual statistical season for Pelfrey
ERA, strikeouts have an uneven look to righty's win total
NEW YORK -- Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers led the National League in victories through Friday with five. He's unbeaten, and he has the sixth-lowest ERA in the league (2.21). The Mets had one starting pitcher with comparable standing in at least two categories. And it wasn't Johan Santana. After beating the Phillies on Thursday, Mike Pelfrey has four wins, as many as any NL pitcher other than Billingsley, and he was unbeaten as well.
ERA was another matter. Pelfrey is ranked 49th among the 60 qualified pitchers in the league -- 5.46.
Five starts into his season, Pelfrey isn't there. Not yet. Not nearly. Neither his record nor his ERA is misleading. But they are quite inconsistent with each other. The Mets' support of Pelfrey -- 36 runs in the five games, third highest in the league -- explains away the inconsistency.
But what explains the 5.46?
"I still think there's another gear left in the big fella," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Thursday. "I still think his offspeed stuff is a little bit away. His secondary pitches aren't what they should be. But he can pitch with his sinker. It's dominant enough you can know it's coming, and he'll still get you to hit it into the ground. But there's more there. We just haven't seen it yet."
Pelfrey pitched seven innings -- no Mets starter has thrown a pitch in the eighth inning this season -- Thursday, allowing three runs on eight hits and one walk. His performance was good enough; the Mets scored seven runs in the first three innings.
"My sinker was good tonight; it was good the last start," Pelfrey said. "If I have that pitch working and I'm able to locate it down in the strike zone, I can pitch with one pitch. But my secondary stuff definitely needs to get better and more consistent."
And he might want to mix in a strikeout here and there. Pelfrey struck out no one on Thursday; he struck out none in his previous start and one -- the second batter of the game -- in the start before that. He has gone 76 batters without a strikeout and now has merely six strikeouts in 28 innings, an average of 1.93 per nine innings. He'd prefer that figure as an ERA.
No Mets pitcher struck out a Phillies batter on Thursday -- Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Rodriguez followed Pelfrey -- a franchise first since April 3, 2007. Orlando Hernandez was the starter in that game, and Billy Wagner pitched an inning. But strikeouts aren't what Pelfrey wants.
"I'll take 5-0 and no strikeouts next time," he said on Friday night."
Pelfrey is winning. He put his record since June 16 last season at 15-5, his ERA at 3.80 ERA.
"How many strikeouts?" he said.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.