Obviously, it was his first start and he has nearly four weeks to work on things before he makes his regular season debut. But there were a lot of parallels between yesterday's start and his identity from last season.
For the most part, Pelfrey's fastball hovered between 90-91 mph last season, and that's pretty much where he was yesterday. He also lacked that hard, downward movement he so badly needs on his sinker, instead moving from left to right across the middle of the strike zone. That resulted in a lot of balls up in the zone and a lot of hard hit balls all over the field. He threw one real good sinker in his entire outing; a ball Terry Tiffee grounded through the third base hole for an RBI single in the first inning.
I talked to Pelfrey a lot about his sinker last week, and he told me he focused on identifying a comfortable grip for his sinker over the winter. He also acknowledged his delivery was inconsistent last year, and worked to improve upon that as well. However, in watching Pelfrey closely this Spring during batting practice and bullpen sessions, he has continued to throw on a very flat plane and has not missed very many bats as a result.
When Pelfrey was at his best two years ago, his body was more upright when his arm arrived in the throwing position, and at that time, his elbow was on a more consistent plane with his shoulder:
Last year, his delivery clearly changed, with his elbow on a lower plane than his shoulder:
To me, this one picture is particularly glaring as to why he gets more horizontal movement on his sinker, rather than downward action:
With his elbow on a lower plane than his shoulder, it makes it very difficult for him to get on top of the sinker consistently, considering he basically has to come "uphill" with his arm first before he gets on top of the ball. As a result, his arm is further behind in his delivery which leaves his arm dragging through his delivery rather than truly throwing over the top. That typically results in a slower and flatter plane for that (and any) pitch to be thrown on which is both identifiable and easier for the hitter to see. It can also be very stressful on the shoulder itself, as it requires more energy to motion uphill and then throw, no matter what the pitch selection is.