Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Michael Pineda's Workload Limit

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

That Michael Pineda was formally announced as the winner of the ST 5th starter competition yesterday was hardly a surprise.  He was clearly the best man for the job based on what he showed in his first 4 ST appearances (2 ER, 16 K/1 BB in 15.0 IP).  What was a little bit of a surprise was Joe's declaration that Pineda would not have an innings limit this season.  The Yankees have been so, so careful bringing Pineda back from his shoulder injury.  As a young pitcher with only 1 full season of innings under his belt, it stood to reason that they would continue that strategy and put some kind of cap on his workload this year.

That 1 full season is what provides some justification for the decision to not limit Pineda.  It's not like he's an A-ball pitcher who's never thrown more than 120-130 innings before.  Pineda has gone through the grind of a Major League season.  Granted that was in 2011, but at his age and in the shape he's in now, he should be physically capable of pitching a full season's worth of starts.  Still, I doubt the "no innings limit" declaration is a true one.  Whether the Yankees set an innings count ceiling or not, we can safely assume that they are going to closely monitor Pineda early in the season and most likely continue to take the cautious approach with him.  I expect the first few months of the year to be primarily 6-inning/sub-100 pitch count starts, which in a way will serve the purpose of limiting Pineda's workload without it being a formal edict.

The bottom line is I wouldn't make too much of Joe's statement.  Coming out and announcing an innings limit before the start of the season usually turns into a bigger distraction than it needs to be for the teams that have done it.  By not doing that and keeping tabs on Pineda early, the Yankees can control his workload and limit his total innings without the distraction.

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