Over the next few weeks, BP South Side will be reviewing the performance of all 51 players who suited up for the 2017 White Sox. Players whose seasons were particularly noteworthy will get their own standalone article, while smaller contributors or those who were traded/cut will be grouped together. We’ll do our best to summarize and analyze what each player brought to this year’s club, what we learned, didn’t learn, and what it all means for his future with the team.
In an ideal 2017 season, the White Sox never have to rely on Mike Pelfrey or pitchers of his ilk. The rotation stays healthy. Carlos Rodon stays of the disabled list and blossoms. James Shields regains his old form, and if not, he at least absorbs innings until the young guns become seasoned enough in their small southern cities. Derek Holland emerges as a useful post-boom trade chit and Dylan Covey makes other GMs envious and upset that their Rule V draft picks didn’t amount to anything. Pelfrey’s early-April minor league contract was supposed to be insurance against one or two things going wrong. A last line of defense if needed.
The Sox made it until April 22 before needing him.
The fact that Pelfrey pitched the third most innings for the 2017 White Sox makes it even more remarkable that the team only finished with the fourth worst record in all of baseball. A rotation composed of injured pitchers and half-seasons from gentlemen now pitching elsewhere somehow managed to give up fewer runs per game than seven other teams! Sorry, I keep getting distracted by this baffling team.
Big Pelf Dawg is not the pitcher he was when the Mets drafted him ninth overall back in 2005 (we are all so damned old). Injuries and time will do that to athletes. He’s not even really the same pitcher who managed a minor bounceback season with the Twins in 2015. No, Pelfrey is what he is at this point: a buffer. And he did that well enough.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to go out there and pitch 120 innings knowing you just don’t have it anymore. Standing in front of thousands of people with thousands more at home watching on TV or their laptops, focused on you every single play of the game. You know your fastball is slower. Your breaking balls don’t bite like they once did. The new young hitters are sprouting up all around you and you won’t be a part of this team the next time they’re competing for a playoff spot. You’re filler. You know it, your opponent knows it, a size-able chunk of the fans in the stands know it. But you pick up the ball and you battle as best you can.
Pelfrey hasn’t been a good pitcher in years. He most certainly wasn’t one for the White Sox this season. But he gave them innings when they desperately needed them and he did so in a situation that requires more personal bravery and inner strength than I’m all but certain I couldn’t handle.
Lead Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports