Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pineda's First Start Highlights The Need To Develop His Changeup

(Courtesy of the AP)

For reasons related to my post-UConn victory celebration last night, I was unable to recap yesterday's game.  The game marked the second straight Yankee debut for a highly-touted young pitcher, only this time it was a player coming back from injury rather than pitching in his first MLB game.  Michael Pineda was outstanding yesterday, allowing a single run in 6 innings of work, walking nobody, and striking out 5.  He threw 83 pitches, 58 for strikes, and his stuff looked very good.  His fastball was lively and averaged 94 MPH and his slider was very sharp, drawing 7 swings and misses.  He even mixed some cutters in.

If there's one negative to take away from Pineda's start yesterday, it was the lack of changeup usage and the problems it caused him against left-handed hitters.  He faced lefty swingers 12 times and they were responsible for 4 of the 5 hits he gave up, including 2 hard-hit doubles and an RBI single.  The development of Pineda's changeup was supposed to be what helped him against lefties, but there wasn't much sign of it yesterday.  He only threw a change once.

We had heard that Pineda was working on his changeup during his MiL rehab starts and bullpen sessions last year, and I thought I read somewhere that it looked better early in spring camp.  If yesterday's start was any indication, however, he still has a long way to go to make it a useful pitch for himself.  Hopefully he starts to work it in more and gets more comfortable with it.  He's going to need it to keep lefty hitters honest.

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