As for the necessity of a third pitch, well, I won’t say you can definitely get by without one, but I do think we’ve gotten a little bit carried away with the concept since The Trade went down. David Price in 2010 was essentially a two pitch pitcher, throwing his fastball or curveball roughly 90% of the time according to Fangraphs, and last year Clayton Kershaw threw a fastball or a slider a touch over 90% of the time en route to the National League Cy Young Award. Now, both of those pitchers were a touch more varied than Pineda, who used a fastball or a slider in ~94% of his offerings, but he also threw his changeup more often then either Price or Kershaw threw their third offering (that’s because Price and Kershaw both worked fourth pitches in as well), and Fangraphs says Pineda’s changeup was slightly above average in terms of pitch value. And, hey, let’s not forget that Pineda did strike out just over one batter per inning pitched while a strikeout to walk ratio of better than 3:1 last season (and winning a highly esteemed award himself, I might add). That’s not to say that Pineda wouldn’t benefit from refining a third pitch over the long term, but for now his primary offerings are so good he should be more than capable of getting by as the second or third best starter on this Yankees’ roster with them.
My worry now is that Cashman’s repeated comments about Pineda’s changeup have put the young hurler in a bit of a no-win situation with the New York media and created some unrealistic expectations about what sort of improvement with the pitch Pineda is likely to show, or even needs to show for that matter. Pineda certainly doesn’t need to develop a plus changeup as a third offering to be a highly effective pitcher, a serviceable off speed pitch he can confidently throw to left-hand batters will more than suffice. But thanks to Cashman’s rather pointed words, I’m afraid that anything short of making hitters look silly with an offspeed pitch will have the writers “questioning” how well Pineda is really performing.
Maybe in the future, Cashman should avoid unnecessarily dramatic pronouncements about his young players?