Depending on your perspective, Michael Pineda and Madison Bumgarner are either a lot alike, or not alike at all. On the one hand, they're both in their low-20s and are starting pitchers in the major leagues. On the other hand, Pineda is right-handed and was born in the Dominican Republic, while Bumgarner is left-handed and was born in North Carolina. For the record, my belief is that DNA trumps everything and that Pineda and Bumgarner are practically twins.
There's something else Pineda and Bumgarner have in common: Bumgarner once struggled with confusingly low velocity, and Pineda is struggling with confusingly low velocity now. At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron offers a suggestion on what the Yankees could do:
My suggestion – follow the Madison Bumgarner model and have him begin the season in Triple-A.
The Yankees should look at Bumgarner and be encouraged. Not every pitcher who has mysteriously lost their top end fastball has had to live without it forever. If Pineda is not compensating for an injury (and at this point, there haven’t been any indications that he is), there is a real chance that his velocity could return. However, it may behoove the Yankees to let him get his fastball back in the minors, at least to begin the season.
The Yankees have the starting-pitching depth, and as we've written here before, if Pineda hangs out in triple-A for a little while, the Yankees would gain an extra year of team control. You'd think that sort of thing would matter to the Yankees the least, but it still matters.
If Pineda comes out blazing in his final few Grapefruit League outings, everything that's happened up until now will be forgotten. If his fastball continues to underwhelm, the Yankees will have a very interesting decision to make.