Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pineda's Future

You can find several types of reaction to the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda swap on the internet. Whether it says that the trade is good or bad, or whether it looks at it through a different view point, you can read just about anything about it. What most seem to focus on is how the Yankees have re-vamped their rotation for the 2012 season with the acquisitions of Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. But what about the future?

There's no doubt that Pineda was a great move for the future of the rotation because he is cheap and can slide right behind CC Sabathia, but also because he still has some room for improvement. A lot of people have been talking about how he doesn't get enough ground balls (36.3% in 2011) and how he gives up too many fly balls (44.8% in 2011), but not about the good he has done. His 2011 home/road splits, his numbers against the AL East, and 2011 second half aren't the only things that should be looked at when looking at this trade.

As a 22 year old rookie in the big leagues, he struck out more than nine per nine innings while walking a little more than two per nine in 171 innings. Those are some sick inputs for someone so young and with his mid 90's fastball and knock out slider, there's no reason to doubt that it's sustainable. 

On Jim Bowden's XM radio show, Brian Cashman said that if Pineda doesn't develop into a number one, the trade would not have been worth it. While I can see his point, I don't think this is necessarily true. If Pineda thrives as a number two behind CC over the next five years, I think it will be a successful move. However, there is one thing in particular I think he can do to take his game to the next level and that is improving his change up.

As I said before, Pineda features two very good pitches in his fastball and slider, but a third pitch will be necessary if he wants to be an ace. He threw a change up last season only 6.3% of the time as a show me pitch at 87-88 mph. He's gonna have to take it up a level in 2012 and beyond. I'm not saying it has to be a plus pitch, but it needs to be average and it needs to be able to make a few bats miss. It could turn out to be a nice weapon against lefties (since he already has the slider for righties) and since change ups are usually thrown down in the zone, it could help raise that ground ball rate in the smaller confines of Yankee Stadium.

At age 23, Pineda isn't what he's gonna be yet. He had a very good year in 2011 and hopefully he can build off of the K/BB ratio and work on his change up. As excited as I was to see Jesus Montero develop into a great hitter, I'm just as excited to see what this new front end of the rotation can do.


At age 23, I expect very little from Pineda. It takes a while before pitchers develop consistency.

I expect Pineda to backslide this season, especially because he is moving from the AL West to the Al East.

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