Michael Pineda made his Yankee debut on Monday afternoon. In two innings, Pineda gave up just one hit, no runs, and recorded two strikeouts. On the surface, these numbers were good, but the fundamentals behind these numbers have some worried..
Foxsport’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted:
Scouts yesterday had #Yankees Pineda at 88-91 (MPH)–‘and there was some ‘effort’ to get to 91.’ one said. Pineda averaged 94.7 last year. #MLB
On the surface, Rosenthal’s point makes some sense. A fastball decline that drastic, regards of time frame, is definitely a cause for concern.
ESPN’s Keith Law also chimed in, stating:
Saw Pineda pitch last March. Pineda’s fastball was consistently around 93-96 MPH.
So, is it time to call Seattle and demand they send Jesus Montero back?
If we look at Pineda’s pitch velocity during a September match-up against Oakland, the radar gun isn’t exactly lighting up..
As shown, Pineda did not dial up his heat until he really needed it. On average, his fastball velocity was 91.25 MPH and he was still able to record seven strikeouts in six innings. If the end results are there, no one will really care what the radar guns read. Of course, an argument can be made that since Pineda felt the need to start games with a diminished fastball, he won’t be able to throw 100+ pitches in the mid-90s. Judging from the graph, Pineda can bring the heat when he needs to–and that’s the most important thing. In a way, that’s something that AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander does.
Ultimately, Spring Training is Spring Training. Pitchers are working to just get the ball over the plate while hitters are working on their swings. There’s absolutely no reason to worry about velocity right now or ever if Pineda gets hitters out.
Remember–Brian Cashman was very candid about his comments surrounding Pineda. Without a strong third pitch, Pineda will not be able to justify the Jesus Montero trade. By all accounts, Pineda has been working on a change-up–and it’s starting to look good. It may not light up the radar gun, but a great change-up makes every other pitch that more difficult to hit.