Marchand: Michael Pineda And The Importance Of Velocity

Michael Pineda started again for the Yankees on Tuesday. The good news was that his fastball velocity showed a slight uptick, and that he struck out five batters in three innings. The bad news was that his fastball velocity still wasn't where it was in 2011, and that he was supposed to last longer than three innings. Indeed, Michael Pineda is still searching for a groove.

How critical is it that Pineda re-discover his missing miles? Andrew Marchand writes:

Last season, Pineda threw 755 fastballs that were 95-MPH or better. Of those, batters hit .180. Their slugging was .285. Batters missed these pitches almost a quarter (23 percent) of the time.

Pineda threw 627 fastballs at 94 or slower. Opponents hit .294 on those offerings. They slugged at .476. They only missed 17 percent of the time.

We're dealing with small sample sizes here, so we can't say anything conclusive. It stands to reason, though, that Pineda would have more success with faster fastballs than with slower fastballs. It's definitely not good news that his velocity is down.

The Yankees can be encouraged that Pineda's fastball showed signs of progress Tuesday. It is still March. He might still be building, and the familiar zip might still come. Additionally, if Pineda improves his changeup, that could only help him regardless of where his fastball tops out. There are plenty of ways that Michael Pineda could go on to be a very successful pitcher.

But for now, questions remain. Writes Jon Heyman:

The mystery of the deal so far is Pineda. who looks rather ordinary in Yankees camp, and now may seriously have to fight for a spot in the rotation. Mariners people are shocked to hear the so-so radar readings and say they have no idea how that could be happening while also insisting he'll be fine. And maybe he will.

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