Yesterday, I took a look at new Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda changed his pitching approach between the first and the second half. Today, I’m going to look at how Pineda attacked righties and lefties to start off at bats.
For right handers, Pineda went fastball heavy, starting them off with number one 54.4% of the time. That first fastball tended to be blazing, hitting an average of 94.8 MPH. This was right in line with his seasonal average for velocity and a tick above his average for usage. His first pitch fastballs went for a strike 63.2% of the time, compared to 68.2% for the season.
If he wasn’t attacking righties with a fiery fastball, he was using his slider 33.5% of the time (32.2% for the season). That pitch went for strikes 62.3% of the time on the first pitch, as opposed to 66.7% in the regular season.
If you click through to the links, you’ll see that Pineda tried to attack righties low and away on the first pitch. There’s a semi-opposite trend if you click through for the charts against lefty hitters. Against southpaws, Pineda worked outside, but he tended to be a little more up in the zone against them. This strategy is definitely one that will suit Yankee Stadium. Considering the short porch in right, it’s a good idea to make lefties go towards the big part of the ballpark. The combination of that location and Pineda’s velocity will make it hard for a lefty batter to turn on his fastball and poke it over the fence over Nick Swisher‘s head.
Like he did against righties, Pineda was fastball heavy on the first pitch (55.2%). He used his slider a lot less against them, understandably, limiting it to 18.5%. He ratcheted up his first pitch changeup usage from 0% against RHB to 6.7% against LHB. Unfortunately, it only went for a strike 54.2% of the time. If Pineda isn’t going to use his slider as a backdoor or back-leg option against lefties, he’s going to need to develop that changeup to keep lefties guessing at the beginning of an at bat. Of course, that’s easier said than done.