Michael Pineda came advertised as a guy who hits 94-95 mph with his fastball regularly and occasionally hitting as high as 97 and 98 mph. So it alarmed everyone when he came into spring training and was throwing just 88-90 mph in his first start.
It’s still early and the velocity would come most reassured. However, that’s exactly what they said, and kept saying, about Phil Hughes just a year ago before he had such a putrid season that a lot of Yankees fans have given up on him not even two years removed from an All-Star team nod.
Last night though Pineda took another step, albeit a small one, toward proving to everybody that he is not Hughes as he had no problem hitting 92 on radar guns and topped out at 94 mph on the night. That continued a trend of adding one-mph to his fastball in each start he has made this spring.
“I know I can throw harder, but it’s getting better,” Pineda told Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News after the game. “My arm feels good. My body is feeling good. It will come back. I’m feeling good.”
Earlier in the week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman offered up a possible explanation for Pineda’s lack of velocity – he showed up to camp 20 pounds heavier than he did last spring and didn’t throw a ball all offseason.
“It appears to me, if I had to guess, I don’t think he did much work this winter,” Cashman said during his appearance on “The Ian O’Connor Show” on ESPN New York 1050 this past Sunday. ”He showed up 20 pounds heavier than he was with Seattle at the same time last year. I bet you it’s the first time he picked up a ball and started working out, and he’s probably using — it doesn’t make it right, if this is the case, but I can’t tell you it’s the case — but he’s probably using spring training to get himself in shape.”
During last night’s game, YES Network broadcaster Lou Piniella offered up another explanation. He said that with all of the emphasis that the Yankees have put on him learning a changeup that he has simply thrown fewer fastballs at this point than he has in the past.
Either way, it does appear that Pineda is slowly gaining his lost velocity back. Hopefully the trend that he has been on continues and he can hit 95 mph in his next start and maybe start lighting up the gun like he did last year in the start following that. Otherwise Cashman’s quote is going to be repeated a heck of a lot more often.