A Michael Pineda Update

Sometimes, you write about something and the commenters unlock something that started in your piece and ends up somewhere more definitive. We were looking for the problem with Michael Pineda earlier today, and it looked like his release points were a bit off and his stuff a bit flat, but not in any crazy way.

But then people pointed out that he’s throwing his fastball lower in the zone, and that it has less sink. And also that he’s been way worse with men on base.

Well, if you take that second part, it really looks like he’s struggling from the stretch.

So I did a simple query for his movement and location with runners on and with the bases empty, and there differences are fairly stark.

First, with nobody on.

Michael Pineda Velocity, Movement, Location and Release (Bases Empty)
Pitch Velocity Horizontal Vertical Crosses Plate Vertically Release Point
FC 93.2 1.2 7.1 2.68 6.65
FF 93.1 -2.4 8.5 2.33 6.73
CH 87.7 -7.5 6.3 1.81 6.86
SL 85.4 1.1 1.0 1.27 6.60

Now, with runners on.

Michael Pineda Velocity, Movement, Location and Release (Runners On)
Pitch Velocity Horizontal Vertical Crosses Plate Vertically Release Point
FC 93.7 1.0 7.7 2.68 6.49
FF 93.5 -2.6 8.7 2.36 6.66
CH 87.9 -8.2 6.8 1.82 6.76
SL 85.8 1.1 1.2 1.85 6.57

On average, the throws harder and from a lower release point when there are runners on. Understandable, perhaps, he’s trying to get out of the inning. At first, though, a different of an inch on the release point seems like it’s just another small thing that could be meaningful or not.

But look at where the slider cross the plate with men on base. It’s a full seven inches higher! When the bases empty, his average slider crosses the plate nearly three inches off the bottom of the plate. With runners on base, it crosses the plate four inches above the bottom of the strike zone on average. That’s a big difference!

And yet… it’s once again not something that’s necessarily mechanical. This could be the effect of confidence in the numbers.

I once talked to Ryan Vogelsong about why he was better with runners on base than he ‘should be,’ and he said “the biggest thing is… not giving up hits with runners on base.” He didn’t tell me at the time, but it looks like he, like many Giants, was willing to give up a walk with runners on instead of giving up a hit.

Maybe Michael Pineda could take that philosophy to the mound today, especially with his slider.

We hoped you liked reading A Michael Pineda Update by Eno Sarris!

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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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London Yank
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London Yank

Thanks for following up on that Eno. This definitely fits my observations, and I think I’ve seen all of his starts this year.