Pitcher preview: Mike Pelfrey

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Another big groundball specialist.

Yesterday, the Rays got to Kyle Gibson, a big, young righty who pumps sinkers, changeups, and breaking balls to the outside and bottom edge of the plate in an attempt to induce grounders. Today they'll face a more mature version of the same pitcher. Seriously, the two are incredibly similar. Start with the size: Gibson was listed at 6'6", Pelfrey is listed at 6'7".

Now consider the stuff.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

Pelfrey also leans very heavily on a low-90s two-seam fastball with good sink. He backs it up with an offspeed pitch -- in his case a splitter -- that also drops, but he mostly uses his splitter against opposite-handed batters. Against righties, he features an 84 mph slider more, and mixes in a curve ball to batters on both sides of the plate. It's a common and predictable way to work, but one that if executed well can result in a lot of weekly hit ground balls. Pelfrey has produced a 47% groundball rate over his career.

Pelfrey doesn't have much of a platoon split. In around 500 plate appearances each, righties have hit him for a .331 wOBA and lefties for a .346 wOBA. Take a look at the areas where Pelfrey likes to locate his pitches. It's quite similar to what the Rays have already seen from Gibson.

Against left-handed hitters:

And against right-handed hitters:

Down and away, down and away. The Rays hitters' approach at the plate yesterday was fantastic. They took almost everything down and outside, and when Gibson was forced to give them something to hit, they did, pulling anything middle in, and going the other way with anything on the outside. It will be interesting to see if they can replicate that success against the wily veteran Pelfrey.

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