I'm just going to put it out in the open: I am officially worried about Michael Pineda's lack of plus velocity. For the first time this Spring Training, I was able to watch him pitch more than a few innings, and what I saw was not what I had hoped to see.
I agreed with the scout's take that Peter Gammons reported a few days ago. Pineda looked like he was expending a lot of effort on the mound, and what I saw was not very encouraging despite his noticeably high effort. By the third inning, Pineda seemed to throw more pitches in the upper 80s than in the low 90s, and this observation was supported by Frankie Piliere, a former scout who was in attendance. Even more discouraging was that this time last spring, Pineda was hitting 97 mph on the radar gun.
Some, including Kevin Goldstein, think that Pineda has been effective despite his lack of plus velocity. However, he has allowed just over a hit per inning and has walked seven batters in 16 1/3 innings. That's good for a BB/9 near four and a WHIP near 1.50. So, has he really been that effective? I'm not about to judge anyone's results over such a small sample, but the process is what is worrying me. I had hoped to see improvement, but we're just under 12 days away from Opening Day and the improvement in the velocity department has not come.
We are talking about a pitcher who for the majority of his professional career has been a hard-throwing fastball machine. When considering that he was routinely able to hit 98-99 mph when trying to throw fastballs by batters for strikeouts last season, how will he be able to respond when he is missing six or seven extra ticks while facing real hitters outside of the Grapefruit League?
I'll hope for the best, but there are plenty of reasons to worry about a young pitcher with an injury history who has mysteriously lost his ability to reach the upper 90s with his fastball.
How about you, Pinstripe Alley? Where do you stand? Vote in the poll.