Ever since Michael Pineda joined the New York Yankees, people have been scrambling for a comparison. Yankee fans are so anxious to see Pineda in action in a regular season game that they need some kind of projection for how his career will turn out.
The problem is that Michael Pineda is very young and unpredictable, so one comparison is not enough. In order to truly see the different pathways Pineda could go down we need to look at multiple pitchers.
Which five pitchers? Let's find out.
Florida: 853.2 IP, 49-50, 3.73 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
Toronto: 522 IP, 38-26, 3.94 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9
New York: 584 IP, 34-35, 4.79 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9
Let's hope this does not happen to Michael Pineda, who had a great rookie season in Seattle, but he is new to New York. The amount of pressure to succeed every time a pitcher steps on the mound in incredible.
Just think about this: Yankee Stadium's average attendance was 45,107 while Safeco Field averaged 23,411 people in attendance. Almost twice as many people go to Yankee home games as Mariner home games, and those numbers do not even include people watching at home online or on television.
The amount of media pressure in New York is a whole different beast than other big market cities. Some players cannot handle the pressure. Just ask A.J. Burnett.
Brandon Morrow is a very young pitcher and has the talent to improve, but as of right now he is just a strikeout pitcher with average (at best) other stats.
Morrow's career 10.1 K/9 is incredible and his 11.0 K/9 in 2010 was tied for the best in a season since Kerry Wood in 2003.
Outside of that amazing strikeout rate, his career 4.37 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 are really bad.
We all know Michael Pineda has the potential to be the major league strikeout king after a 9.1 K/9 in his rookie season. Let's just hope he becomes a more complete pitcher over the next few years.
Kerry Wood took the majors by storm in 1998. He won 13 games, had a 3.40 ERA and a 12.6 K/9 in 166.2 innings pitched. He even tied Roger Clemens' single-game record with 20 strikeouts in his fifth career start. He also walked zero, allowed only one hit and allowed zero runs in that game.
Wood then had Tommy John surgery on his elbow early in 1999 and missed the entire season.
He came back from surgery and remained a good pitcher until 2003 when he struck out 266 batters in 211 innings and posted a 3.20 ERA. The young 26-year-old righty was becoming an ace for the Chicago Cubs, but then just one year later he went down for two months with a strained tricep. Wood then had surgery in August 2005 and then had surgery again, this time on his knee, in early 2006.
Most of these injuries and eventual surgeries, including Tommy John surgery, were attributed to his pitching style. Kerry Wood uses a pitching style called the "Inverted W" that adds extra stress on his elbow, and unfortunately Michael Pineda uses this same pitching style.
Kerry Wood had all the talent in the world, but due to his long injury history he was forced to the bullpen. Let's hope this doesn't happen to Pineda.
Pitcher A: 6'7", 9.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.10 WHIP, 94.2 mph Average Fastball
Pitcher B: 6'6", 8.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.14 WHIP, 94.7 mph Average Fastball
Which one is Michael Pineda and which is David Price?
These two pitchers have quite a bit in common. Yes, Price is a lefty and Pineda is a righty, but they have their similarities. Both Price and Pineda have a tall, dominating presence on the mound. They have high strikeout rates, low walk rates, low WHIPs and a 94 to 95 mph fastball.
If Michael Pineda can enjoy David Price's success so far in his young career, Brian Cashman, the New York Yankees and their fans will be very happy.
If you were curious, Player A is Michael Pineda and Player B is David Price.
This comparison is just too easy.
Both C.C. Sabathia and Michael Pineda stand at 6'7" and weigh more than 270 pounds.
They both have the ability to strike out about a batter per inning, throw a mid-90s fastball, a great slider and a changeup.
Sabathia started his career in Cleveland while Pineda started out in Seattle. Both cities are very small markets compared to New York. Their ballparks are known as pitchers' parks and they preside in much weaker divisions.
This transition to a bigger city, smaller stadium and better division did not stump Sabathia. Sabathia was already an established ace with a Cy Young Award, so the transition will be tougher for Pineda. But this has to give you hope Pineda can cope with the move to New York.
Will Michael Pineda flourish in New York like C.C. Sabathia? Nobody knows, but we can always hope.