Mechanical adjustments are usually good news or bad news, as they’ll either fix issues or create new ones. The Yankees don’t like to mess with what works, though in recent years, players have taken the initiative to try and correct problems or improve. One of my favorite examples, in terms of pitching, is David Robertson, who altered his mechanics to mimic Mariano Rivera. It worked here, but in the case of Mark Teixeira, who in 2012 tried to develop an opposite field approach to avoid shifts, the results were a two month .228/.283/.386 slash before he gave up and went back to his old hitting style.
We hear a lot about new mechanics in Spring Training, and I expect we’ll see some from a few hitters, like Jacoby Ellsbury and Kelly Johnson, and some pitchers, especially guys like Dellin Betances or Mark Montgomery. It’s rarer to see starting pitcher’s mechanics adjusted, but it seems that Michael Pineda has made some changes during his two years of rehab.
“I thought the ball was coming out easier (than in previous years),” Girardi said. “I know he’s had time to clean up a couple things too, mechanically, in this two-year span. He just looked like it came out free and easy to me.”
The Yankees got a glimpse of post-shoulder surgery Pineda in 2013, but he wasn’t 100%. Peter O’Brien, who caught Pineda last season, told the media that he’s seen a “huge difference” in Pineda this February. All this hype over the starter can lead to some unreasonable expectations, but who am I to slow down the hype train? To get a better idea of how different Pineda is throwing, I’ve set Pineda’s mechanics from 2011 next to his mechanics from a bullpen this morning.
The two videos come from a game against the Twins in May, and a bullpen this morning taken by Chad Jennings. The difference in mechanics is fairly minimal. Pineda obviously starts his glove in different locations, now with both hands near his waist rather than his chest. Other than that, Pineda looks to have better balance through his motion, and his follow through is much more deliberate and less violent. This could be due to the nature of the bullpen session. It’s unlikely that the starter is throwing at 100% effort, and due to that, his later mechanics look much more clean and fluid.
There are some fundamental changes here, but for the most part he’s the same pitcher as 2011. The good news is that the shoulder rotation and arm slot looks the same, which can be an issue after shoulder surgery. Once he starts to increase effort, and once we start seeing him in Spring Training games, we’ll have a better idea of what the Yankees have purposely changed.