What Should the Expectations Be for Michael Pineda?
Image courtesy of © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SportsThe Last Time Fans Saw Him
Pineda was back last season after missing all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery. As with most pitchers returning from this procedure, it took him awhile to get back to his old self. In the first half, he posted a 4.56 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP as batters hit .261/.296/.455 (.751) against him. He locked in from there by lowering his ERA to 3.04 and he struck out 56 batters over his final 53 1/3 innings. Pineda might have been Minnesota’s most consistent starter down the stretch.
One of the biggest changes for Pineda was an increase use in his four-seamer and a decrease use in his slider. In his last season prior to surgery, he used his four-seamer 47.7% of the time and his slider 37.8% of the time. Last season with the Twins, his slider usage dropped to a career low usage of 29.5% and his four-seamer was used over 54% of the time. Some of this change might have been from his return from surgery and trying to find his feel for pitching again.
Reports from St. Paul
In a normal season, Pineda would have been able to go and pitch in minor league games to get himself prepared to be back on a big-league mound. For 2020, things look a little different as Pineda has been pitching at the Twins secondary site at St. Paul’s CHS Field. Luckily, Josh Donaldson is also rehabbing at that site and this gives both veteran players a chance to be a little better prepared for their return.
As far as reports from St. Paul, it sounds like Pineda has been able to hit 94 mph with his fastball. Last season, his four-seamer averaged 92.5 mph, but he averaged 93.9 mph prior to his surgery. He is also stretched out enough to pitch at least five innings. Minnesota has been regularly using a bullpen game, so adding Pineda could mean the team can have a fresher bullpen for the remainder of the season.
Pineda steps into a Twins rotation that already includes Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak and Rich Hill. Having a complete five-man rotation is something the Twins have been missing for much of the season. The team also has three off-days over the next two weeks, which means the team doesn’t need to use a fifth starter or they can give all their starters extra days of rest.
What kind of impact will Pineda be able to have in one month of the season? He has the chance to make around five starts and then everything is going to come down to a three-game series in the first round of the new expanded playoffs. If Pineda looks good, he could slide into starting one of those three games. Starting pitching depth is never a bad thing, especially with the rash of injuries across baseball this year. Pineda can provide a boost at a time when the Twins have been struggling on the field.
What are your expectations for Pineda? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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