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Looking Back at Michael Pineda’s Twins Tenure


The Twins brought Michael Pineda in while their winning window was open. His Twins tenure was a roller coaster ride, and now he may have taken the mound with the team for the last time.

Leading into the 2018 season, the Twins took a unique approach to add to the starting rotation. Michael Pineda was recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he didn't appear in a game for the club that season. Minnesota was showing faith in Pineda, and he rewarded that faith during his Twins tenure. 

There are usually struggles in a player’s first season back from Tommy John surgery, but Pineda slid into the Twins rotation and posted a 113 ERA+. His 4.01 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in a heightened offensive atmosphere helped the Twins clinch the AL Central for the first time since 2010.

Unfortunately, Pineda wasn’t able to help the Twins in October. He was handed an 80-game suspension in early September for taking a banned diuretic. The suspension was later reduced to 60 games after he and his representation argued that he was using it to control his weight, not as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. It was still a blow to the Twins as the team started rookie Randy Dobnak in the ALDS Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. 

Entering that off-season, Pineda was a free agent, and his Twins tenure could have ended at that point. However, Minnesota showed confidence in him and his abilities by signing him to another two-year deal. He missed the start of the 2020 campaign, but the team thought they’d have him to upgrade the rotation before the All-Star Break. 

The 2020 season didn’t start like anyone planned, which meant Pineda couldn’t debut until the season’s final month. He made five starts and allowed three earned runs or fewer in each appearance. Pineda didn’t have a chance to make an October start, but he ended the year with a 3.38 ERA and a 25 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio in 26 2/3 innings. His performance gave hope that he could help the Twins contend again in 2021. 

Things haven’t gone perfectly for Pineda in 2021, as he missed six weeks on the injured list with an oblique strain and forearm inflammation. When on the mound, he provided value with 117 ERA+. He made 53 appearances with the Twins and held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 83% of those outings. His strikeout per nine is lower than his career total, but he has also reduced his walk rate.   

His steadying presence is something the organization might need moving forward. Looking to 2022, Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan are the only starters penciled into the starting rotation. Pineda is a veteran that can add depth to a rotation even if he isn’t a high-end starter that can push the Twins back into contention. 

“He’s been about as important of a member of this group over the last three years as anyone,” Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “He’s been a constant, his performance has been a constant, his leadership has been a constant, and his personality, too, which matters.”

Pineda isn’t an ace, but the Twins need pitching depth, and he is a known quantity. He’s made it clear that he wants to stay in Minnesota, but the two sides will need to work out a fair deal for each sides.

Do you think Pineda has made his last start in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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Have never been a huge fan of the Twins signing Pineda, twice.  Yet, so often I look at a box score following his start and think...that was a solid outing. 

Not being around the team, I don't know what his presence means to the locker room.  Some could argue that with their record this year no one meant a lot in the locker room.  But recent reports seem to indicate that he maintains a large presence, which could be more important in 2022 should there be several young starters.

It appears that Pineda likes the Twins and the Minneapolis area.  It also seems that the FO likes big Mike.  So I will not be surprised when/if the Twins announce that he has been signed to another two year deal for similar dollars as the last.  Some combination of Pineda, Ober and Ryan could be a solid #2-#3-#4 for 2022.  If Ryan develops like we hope, they could be better than solid!

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In 5 seasons for this front office the best free agent pitcher they have added is Michael Pineda. He's missed a season and a half due to injuries and suspension and he's still the best free agent pitcher they have added in 5 seasons. I really hope he's not the best free agent pitcher they acquire in the upcoming offseason.

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I would look to bring him back.  He may not be a top end guy, but he is above replacement value.  I also feel you need at least 1 or 2 vets in the rotation over the long season.  I do hope we have a bit more of a youth movement in the starting pitching, but bringing him back would be fine by me.  

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I'd bring him back. He's pitched well for the team, likes it here, is well-liked by the franchise, and could probably be had on a 1-2 year deal for a pretty reasonable price. (1 year at $8M?) He'd be good to help bridge time with the younger starters coming along. If you plan for him to only throw 100-150 innings, you should be fine.

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If this is it, he goes out winning his last 4 decisions in a row.  But it seems like he will be back. For a similar contract with maybe a few more dollars is fine see my blog on guessing his next contract.

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Who knows what the FO will do?  I'm worried that not only will they not spend much this off season, but that the budget may be significantly cut.  I hope I'm wrong.  Pineada should be signed for another year or two.  My god we need pitching.  Let's just stay out of the dumpster for free agent pitchers this year.  It doesn't work too often.

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Looks like the only locks for the rotation next year are Ober and Ryan. Pineda would be a solid addition again and add some stability when you start looking at guys like Jax, Dobnak, Gant, Barnes, and some of the other lesser desirables they have to throw out there. If there isn't a couple of other BIG moves made to add to the rotation for 2022 then Big Mike should be considered. I think the FO will punt for the 2022 season with it's eyes towards 2023. 

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I’m not sure signing a 32 year old, who will be 33 when the season starts pitcher who just posted a career low K% and velocity, who also missed a lot of time with nagging injuries is adding stability.

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I think, and have thought for a while now, he's a done deal. While I don't have any clue if there have been any negotiations between both parties I would lay real money there has at least been conversation. Personally, I never had a problem with him not being traded at the deadline. The Twins wanted and needed a veteran presence in their rotation, which we saw, and which they openly spoke about.

One thing that I think escapes memory is Pineda was really one of the first creative moves this FO made to rebuild the rotation, while needing time to rebuild the milb structure. Signing him to rehab and get ready for the next year was inventive and WORKED, The entire diaretic discussion and suspension is water under the bridge. What happened was unfortunate to be sure, but should have no bearing on what he's actually done when on the mound.

Once he was healthy in 2019, it took him little time to fit in and find himself. And at times, he was the Twins best SP. His lack of opportunity in 2020 was not related to injury but rather the suspension and a short season. In limited action, he was again very good.

Yes he had some injury issues this past year. And yes, some of his numbers and velocity slipped a bit. But some of his numbers were as good or better than his previous production in a Twins uniform. He is experienced, and seems to have a bulldog mentality on the mound.  He's been adapting. I am ABSOLUTELY NOT comparing him directly, but he sort of has the Maddux ability to learn and adapt. 

I know he's getting a little older, but he's not ancient or over the hill, And I dismiss his 2021 injuries to a SMALL extent as we've seen a HUGE rise in pitcher injuries at both the ML and Milb level this past year post 2020. I do not expect 180IP in 2022, but I think 150-160IP is reasonable to hope for. I think he's an easy $8M-ish deal as a #3-4SP depending how Ryan and Ober perform. At worst, he's still depth and quality when healthy to bridge the gap for the prospects to get ready and get their feet wet.

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