Overall most pragmatic followers of the Yankees like the Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero deal because it fills their need for pitching. The problem is that if Pineda doesn’t do well in Pinstripes, it is likely we will be looking back at this deal as a big mistake for the Yankees because Montero figures to do so well (at least offensively).
One of the biggest things that could hold Pineda back would be injuries. If he’s on the shelf for a prolonged period of time it is going to be real hard to get the kind of production out of him that is needed to matchup to Montero.
This is certainly something to take seriously. because as recently as 2009 Pineda missed nearly an entire season with elbow soreness. He never ended up having surgery, a good sign to be sure, but that could potentially be a red flag.
It’s potentially more worrisome when you consider his innings since then. He threw just 47.1 innings in 2009. He then came back the next year and threw 139.1 innings, a huge 92 inning difference. Then finally he tossed 171 major league innings in 2011, an increase of 31.2.
Why should any of that matter? It’s because of a little thing called the Verducci Effect, which is essentially a negative indicator that warns of too much wear on a young pitcher. A pitcher 25-years or younger is in danger of the Verducci Effect when he throws at least 30 more innings from year to year.
Pineda barely falls into this category because he threw 31.2 more innings last season than the year before. It also doesn’t seem as big of a deal when you consider that the Mariners took it easy on him in the final month of the year, using him on extra rest every time out including 10 days of rest in his final start.
The innings jump of 31.2 is barely over the 30 that Tom Verducci recommends, but his last start is somewhat troubling in that he was only hitting 90-92 after being up in the 94-97 MPH range all year. Hopefully going over the 30 inning mark didn’t have too big of an effect. It is worrisome when considering the huge 92 inning jump from the year before.
Now the thing about this is that it is not scientific. Verducci, who one one of the best reporters working today, came up with this based on observation and conversations with coaches and players. There is something to it, but it effects different people in different ways. Particularly with Pineda, he is a 6-7, 260-pound guy. Yes, he did have elbow problems, but they didn’t require surgery and he seems to be fine now.
This is obviously something to keep an eye on though as it is with any young pitchers. Hopefully he tosses 900-1,000 innings over the next five years. If he doesn’t do that, it might be hard for the Yankees to come out ahead on this deal.