There has been no lack of Michael Pineda PITCHf/x analysis in the aftermath of the Big Trade, and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Lucas Apostoleris here, Whelk at DRays Bay here and our pal Matt Imbrogno here. With these fine fellows having already done some of the legwork I was planning on doing, I thought I’d shift my focus to a compelling comp:
Feel free to guess in the comments, or find out what we’re looking at after the jump.
Player A is, of course, Michael Pineda, while Player B is Brandon Morrow. The table on top are both pitchers’ four-seamers in 2011, and the bottom table are both pitchers’ sliders. While the two aren’t exact duplicates of each other — Morrow’s secondary pitches are a splitter and curve; while Pineda, despite the two-pitch pitcher tag (which I admit to lazily using myself) actually does occasionally throw a cutter, two-seamer, and something PITCHf/x has labeled simply a “fastball” but based on velocity, horizontal and vertical break could be a hard splitter (I asked Lucas about this pitch on Twitter but haven’t yet heard back. ETA, 1:24pm: Just heard from Lucas; the pitch is actually Pineda’s changeup. His changeup is apparently a hard change and somewhat similar to splitter) — they’re pretty close.
Both are among the hardest-throwers in the game (Pineda’s four-seamer clocked in as the third-fastest in baseball last season, while Morrow’s was tied for 6th), with fastballs that generate significantly above-average Whiff rates, while each righty pairs his heater with a devastating slider that also generates an above-average Whiff%.
Morrow rode his ridiculously strong one-two punch to the best K/9 in the American League and was one of only two hurlers in all of MLB to crack the 10 K/9 mark last season (the other being free-agent-to-be Zack Greinke), while Pineda had the seventh-best mark in the bigs. A side-by-side comparison further illustrates the two pitchers’ similarities, with both accruing 3.4 fWAR last season in nearly the same number of innings pitched, though doing it in slightly different manners, as Morrow walked more men and gave up three more home runs; while Pineda was the beneficiary of one of the lower BABIPs in the league, helping him post an ERA nearly one full run less than Morrow’s. Both men are flyball pitchers, and both finished the season with identical xFIPs.
So the Yankees have ostensibly acquired a version of Morrow who is five years younger, walks fewer hitters, throws harder, and appears to have an even more diverse arsenal in the person of Michael Pineda. Jesus Montero who?
Moving on, reader Frank submitted a mailbag question earlier in the week asking for Pineda’s 2012 projections, and so below is a table of what Pineda did in 2011, what the five currently available systems see him doing in 2012, and the straight averages of those projections. It’s important to bear in mind that all of these projections — save SG’s CAIRO — are for Pineda as a Mariner, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
For the most part the systems agree that Pineda will at least pitch as well as he did in 2011, if not a tick better. Again, one should expect these numbers to be slightly worse across the board with Pineda moving from Safeco Field to the Bronx.
While the Yankee-adjusted CAIRO projection may seem a touch negative, among the many awesome things SG does is also occasionally offering percentile projections for certain players, and so you can also see how CAIRO thinks Pineda will perform as a Yankee at several different levels. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that Pineda could at the very least hit his 65th percentile projection of a 3.77 ERA/3.45 FIP, and if everything breaks right for the big right-hander, the 80th percentile projection, while a lofty perch — should he hit those marks, he would likely be among the top 20 pitchers in all of MLB — is not entirely unreasonable, either.