So far, 2017 has been a season of maturation for Michael Pineda. And the righthander’s performance in the Yankees’ 9-5 win over the A’s Sunday was a prime example of that growth.
Pineda was without his primary put-away pitch for the series finale at the Stadium — his sweeping power slider. After the game, both Pineda and manager Joe Girardi said the pitch lacked consistency, both in terms of location and movement. Yet Pineda was still able to pitch effectively, allowing two earned runs over six innings to claim his sixth win of the season.
Pineda has now surrendered three earned runs or fewer in nine straight starts. Some of the outings have been stellar. Others have been of the bulldog, grind-it-out variety. But the key is Pineda has discovered ways to limit the damage even when he doesn’t have his electric stuff.
On Sunday, Pineda featured his changeup — a pitch he’s grown more confident in this season. He is on pace to throw more changeups in 2017 than he has in any other major-league campaign.
“It acts like a sinker almost sometimes,” Girardi said of Pineda’s changeup, which can touch up to 94 miles per hour but averages around 88. “And with the other two pitches going the other way, his fastball, which sometimes has a little cut, and his slider, I think it gives him pitches that go both ways and it gives him three different speeds. And I think that’s what makes it effective.”
In 2016, Pineda’s poor starts — and there were many of them — followed a similar pattern. He’d showcase the nasty strikeout pitches, fanning eight, nine or even double-digit batters. But he’d make too many mistakes, surrendering home runs and extra-base hits in crucial spots, unable to get the big outs when he needed them. Many times, those big innings came early in starts, with Pineda never giving the Yankees a chance to win.
This season, he’s getting those high-pressure outs at a more consistent clip. He’s minimizing mistakes and preventing starts from spiraling out of control. In the second inning Sunday, Pineda allowed a walk, a double and a two-RBI single before recording his first out. It could have been the start of a disaster. But Pineda answered by retiring the next eight batters he faced, clearing the way for a Yankee comeback. He owns a 3.47 ERA on the year.
“It’s easy to pitch when you have your best stuff,” Pineda said after the win. “But when you don’t have your best stuff, you need to grind on the mound and execute your pitches. That’s what I’m doing, and I feel happy with that.”
At 28 years old, it appears as though Pineda is finally putting it together mentally.
Improved confidence and the development of his changeup certainly help.
“It’s just maturing,” Girardi said.
Source: Ny Daily News