"The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen." - Bob Lemon
Truer words were never spoken than in that famous quote. Besides having a lock-down closer, one of the key ingredients to a prosperous bullpen is a quality Loogy. Sure, kids never say, "Dad, when I grow up I want to be a left-handed relief specialist," but that's not a reflection on the importance of that role. And if that lefty can also occasionally get righties out, too, then he's that much more useful. Which all leads us to the man of the hour: Pedro Feliciano. Flying under the radar, taken for granted, tried-and-true -- all of these descriptions fit Feliciano. But successful, year-in-and-year-out, reliable and quality are words that also paint an accurate picture of Feliciano.
Though it's hard to believe, Feliciano is the longest tenured Met (though there was a one-year leave of absence mixed in). He's been with the team since 2002, when, after bouncing around in the Dodger system for six years battling injuries, ineffectiveness and long, windy anecdotes about the old days by team ambassador Tommy Lasorda, and then briefly going over to the Cincinnati organization, he was traded to the Mets along with Brady Clark for Shawn Estes. After shuttling between the Mets and the minors for parts of three seasons, he then left the country altogether in 2005, protesting the end of the nine-year run of Everybody Loves Raymond (or more likely because he just wanted to pitch more consistently). He went to Japan, where he played for the mellifluously named Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. He then rejoined the Mets in 2006 and has been a stalwart in the team's bullpen ever since.
Nicknamed Perpetual Pedro by Gary Cohen, the 34-year-old led the majors in appearances in 2008, with 86, while also setting a new franchise record. He topped that last season, with 88 games pitched, and may have been the team's best player (though the only other person in the running was the bat boy). And this year, his role has expanded to occasionally act as the setup man, facing both lefties and righties. The Mets' 'pen this season has been a revolving door, with Feliciano and Frankie Rodriguez being the only two relievers manager Jerry Manuel has trusted since opening day. And Feliciano hasn't let him down. For what it's worth, he has a 1.74 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and .265 BAA (.232 vs. lefties, .295 vs. righties).
But Feliciano's true value to the Mets over the years has been his ability to get the big out against a lefty (or sometimes righty) in a clutch situation. Sure, a few guys like Adam Dunn, Brian McCann and Chipper Jones are batting over .300 against Pedro, but take a look at what he's done vs. the Phillies over the years: Ryan Howard has a .156 average in 32 at-bats against Feliciano, Shane Victorino .174 (23 at-bats), Jimmy Rollins .227 (22 at-bats), Chase Utley .250 (32 at-bats) and Raul Ibanez .200 (10 at-bats). And here are how some other notables have fared against Feliciano in their careers: Adrian Gonzalez .200 (15 at-bats), Prince Fielder .125 (eight at-bats), Todd Helton .125 (eight at-bats), Brian Giles .000 (12 at-bats), and Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez have gone a combined three for 28 against the Met reliever. Feliciano's career BAA vs. lefties is an impressive .216 (with a 1.06 WHIP).
Pedro Feliciano has seemingly been with the Mets forever. While closers have come and gone (Armando Benitez, Braden Looper, Billy Wagner and now K-Rod, not to mention fill-ins like David Weathers and Luis Ayala), Feliciano remains - like a long-trusted friend, who doesn't surprise or dazzle but can always be counted on. He's earned his nickname, Perpetual Pedro, and he's one of the Mets' greatest assets.
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