Another position battle that’s been brewing all spring is the fifth starter. Neither El Duque nor Mike Pelfrey has taken complete command of this spot on the roster. This is another position on the team that will probably come down to the last week of spring training to force the Mets to make a decision.
El Duque hasn’t pitched much at all. He’s pitched a couple of simulated games including one today. David Lennon of Newsday reports that his velocity barely qualified as velocity. Apparently he hit 81 mph and most pitches were in the 70’s. That’s not going to get it done…
Mike Pelfrey has been inconsistent so far this spring. Inconsistent is an improvement over his performance last season. He was completely overmatched by major league hitters for the most part. He has potential but just hasn’t put it all together. Some pitchers take some time to find it and some pitchers just never do.
My opinion is that El Duque is probably done. Who knows how old he really is anyway? There’s been a lot written this spring about his new, more subdued windup to alleviate health problems. He has foot problems and maybe some others that we don’t know about.
I think that Pelfrey will come away with the fifth spot in the rotation. I don’t know where that will leave El Duque. He’s said that he doesn’t want to relieve and I can’t see him going to AAA either. He may end up getting released with $6 million left on his contract. Hey, it’s been done before. Damion Easly was released by the Tigers with $14 million left on his contract in 2003. He played 36 games for the Rays that season before being released again. It happens.