A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at Michael Pineda’s mechanics, comparing his 2014 delivery to 2011. The best footage we had from 2014 was a bullpen session taken by Chad Jennings, but now that we have a few televised starts under our belt, I thought I’d take a look at the more conventional camera angle.
As we saw with his bullpen session, Michael Pineda seems to have maintained his arm slot despite his shoulder injury. It wasn’t very high to begin with, so it’s no surprise that the training staff didn’t encourage an even lower release point. His delivery mechanics have likewise remained the exact same, and it looks like Pineda hasn’t forgotten a thing over the last two and a half years.
As far as differences go, there isn’t much to see here. I mentioned in the bullpen session that Pineda looked to have much better balance on the mound, but attributed that to lighter throwing. Here, we see that Pineda still has some slightly better balance, and that again could be because he is holding back a bit in this Spring Training game.
The similarity in delivery is encouraging, in that Pineda hasn’t developed any bad habits after suffering a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game for two years. This doesn’t mean that Pineda is the same pitcher though. In his most recent game against the Orioles, Pineda showed signs of poor timing and repetition, which isn’t too surprising considering the time missed. The right-hander will need more time on the mound to get a feel for his mechanics again, and if the problem isn’t fixed, he could have command issues this season. It’s a little premature to start considering this a major problem though, as we’ve seen even the most accurate pitchers show poor timing in the first few weeks of March.
The second problem with Pineda is a lack of velocity. Though he hasn’t been nearly as low as CC Sabathia, the starter was working in just the low-90’s in his first two appearances. As I said above, it doesn’t look like Pineda is giving 100% effort in the 2014 GIF above, and this is typical for early Spring Training. As he builds up his innings and we grow closer to opening day, keep your eyes on the radar, as it’ll be a big step for him to start touching the mid-90’s again.
The similar mechanics are encouraging news for the Yankees and Pineda, but timing and repetition, as well as velocity, will make or break Pineda in 2014. With so many other starts pitching well for the Yankees, he’ll have to start coupling his overpowering fastball with good command sooner rather than later.