Is there anyone in the National League that’s improved more in one year than Mike Pelfrey?

Pelfrey continued his bounce back season last night by tossing seven shutout innings against the suddenly punch-less Phillies (Mets shut them out in three straight games). The Mets right-hander improved to 7-1 with a sparkling 2.54 ERA in 10 starts in 2010. He even picked up a save in his only outing out of the bullpen in mid-April. Pelfrey has been a huge shot in the arm for the 25-23 Mets being their most effective starter to date, and that includes better than Johan Santana.

After his breakout season in 2008 (13-11, 3.72) Pelfrey was terribly inconsistent all of last year before finishing 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA in 31 starts. So what’s the difference through 10 starts this year? Well for one thing he’s not allowed as many hits and home runs are significantly down. Last year, Pelfrey gave up 10.4 H/9 while he’s down to 8.1 H/9 in 2010. He also served up 18 long balls last season, but has only seen three bombs go against him this year. While his BB/9 is essentially the same, his strikeouts are up from 5.2 to 6.2 K/9. He’s also getting better defense/luck behind him with a .285 BAPIP (batting average on balls in play) down 35 points from his 2009 BAPIP of .321.

It’s definitely possible that Pelfrey will eventually balance out a bit and see his ERA rise somewhere in the 3.00 range, but one thing is for certain—this is the pitcher the Mets thought they were getting with the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft. If they are to compete all summer in the NL East, this is the Mike Pelfrey they need.