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Managing Expectations With Michael Pineda

By Mike Silva ~ January 16th, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees.

It’s hard to not to be excited about Michael Pineda wearing pinstripes. He’s young, has top-of-the-rotation upside, and controllable for the next five years. He’s everything the Yankees hope Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will be, except he already established a foundation in the big leagues. For all the celebration regarding the deal, Pineda isn’t a perfect pitcher and there is reason to manage expectations in 2012.

Most obvious is the fact he will be just 23-years old on Opening Day. Pineda is still learning to pitch so it might be unfair to slot him as the #2 on a team with championship aspirations. The message I would send to everyone is Pineda is expected to contribute in the backend of the rotation behind Sabathia, Kuroda, and Nova. Anointing him as the 1-A behind Sabathia this spring is setting him up to fail.

When you breakdown his rookie campaign there is a lot to get excited about. You see over a strikeout per inning, decent control of the strike zone, and an All Star appearance. You also see a pitcher that regressed in the second half to the tune of a 5.12 ERA. With command of only two pitches, it’s necessary for him to make adjustments to the league as they learn his tendencies. Clearly, this is an opportunity, as it is with all young players.

A deeper dive into his numbers shows that he feasted on some of the poorer teams. A quarter of his starts were against Kansas City, Oakland, and Minnesota; three teams at the bottom half of the American League in offense. He hurled a 1.71 ERA against National League opponents primarily at spacious Safeco Field and in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Opponents hit only .182 against him in Safeco, which is ranked in the bottom of the league in terms of offense. His ERA was a run and a half lower at home (2.92) than on the road (4.40). When facing teams with a 500+ record his ERA ballooned to 5.42. Again, I am not disparaging Pineda, just pointing out he has areas to develop and isn’t a finished product. He might be Pedro Martinez or King Felix one day; that day just might not be here yet.

I am not suggesting this is a bad deal or that Pineda is a flop. He has the ability to be at the top of the Yankees rotation, however there needs to be some level of patience for him to grow. What happens if he gets off to a rough start in April? Will the media start to question the trade? Will the fans boo? If he pitches to a .500 record and ERA around 4.50 will that be a disappointment? Any or all of this could happen, but perhaps it could be minimized if the expectations are managed appropriately.

I see Michael Pineda developing into a solid #2 pitcher that can dominate a ballgame. I think 2012 will see some challenges as he adjusts to a new city, team with championship aspirations, and hitter-heavy division. A high strikeout rate is a great foundation, but pitching is so much more than that. Understanding he is only 23-years old with lots of room to grow is imperative for this transition to go as smooth as possible.  The Yankees will have to battle the media and fan expectations as part of this process.


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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Managing Expectations With Michael Pineda

  1. Faiaz

    The following article…


    …mitigates some of Pineda’s concerns.

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