Dave Cameron, a (sarcasm font) favorite of many here at Pinstripe Alley, recently penned this piece about why the Yankees should demote Michael Pineda to AAA to start the season.
Cameron explains that the Yankees should start Pineda in AAA because:
1. He gets a chance to build his arm strength back up outside of the fishbowl that is New York, where every pitch he throws will be highly scrutinized.
2. The Yankees will convert Pineda’s free agent eligibility in 2016 into a year of team control through arbitration instead.
While I cannot argue that the Yankees won't be benefited by the extra year of arbitration, I would like to argue against the first point Cameron makes.
First of all, while Pineda's velocity is lower than expected, there are two reasons to believe that is not necessarily a problem. Pineda did not pitch Winter Ball, so it is expected that it takes a bit longer to get his velocity up, and recently I spoke with one scout that said Pineda "could be holding back so he can be full strength to start the season."
Now all of that is pure speculation, but Pineda has shown flashes of being able to throw at his normal velocity. Rather than throwing this Spring Training, Pineda is pitching, showing off his fixed up change up, and creating a greater arsenal to get hitters out.
Follow me after the jump for more.Thanks to this greater arsenal, including the change up, Pineda does not have to rely on his fastball as much. Cameron explains that Pineda would not have to be pitching in the New York spotlight, but just because Pineda's velocity is down, it does not mean he will have less success.
What Pineda has "lost" in his fastball, he appears to have gained in his change up.
If Pineda was throwing 95-97 and looking strong, it wouldn’t be a consideration. At 90-94, and taking 20+ pitches to get through an inning against spring training competition, it should be. Especially with Andy Pettitte on the comeback trail, the Yankees do not need Michael Pineda to begin the season. The goal should be to get him throwing well by the end of the year so that he can prepared to be a real weapon for the team in the playoffs. Sacrificing a few early-season Major League starts may just be the best way to get Pineda in the best shape possible for October, and could get the Yankees an extra year of service from him in the process
Again, I cannot argue against the service point, as I know the Yankees want to save money, but if Pineda was throwing 95-97, wouldn't he be more likely to burn out his arm by the time October rolls around?
The belief here is that Pineda is intentionally holding back, and could hold back even to start the season-either to please the Yankees, or because he understands what it takes to get hitters out.
Another quote from the scout I talked to: "Pineda knows what he has to do to get hitters out. If he has to throw upper 90's he will let loose. If he can throw lower 90's he will save up his arm and do that."
It appears Pineda is a smart pitcher that is saving up his arm strength, and that's something I am glad to see, not a reason that the Yankees should keep Pineda in AAA.
Please, Yankees, start Pineda in the majors.