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New York Yankees' Michael Pineda Might Be a Victim of the 'Verducci Effect'

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 09:  Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the fourth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 9, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Harold FriendChief Writer IApril 26, 2012

"In no way do I believe, or do the New York Yankees believe, that the Seattle Mariners had any knowledge of any issues here with Michael Pineda prior to the trade or anything of that nature," Brian Cashman said.

"He was a fully healthy player we acquired. We had full access to his medicals, which were clean. We had the opportunity to do a full physical exam, which we did, which came out clean."

Over his final 17 starts last season, Pineda was 3-8 with a 4.74 ERA.

Larry Stone wrote a fascinating, amazing, unbelievable column on Jan. 16, 2012 about the “Verducci Effect.”

The “Verducci Effect” is a theory that pitchers under the age of 25 that increase their workload by at least 30 innings from one season to the next are prone to serious injury.

Stone wrote that one team even has a column in its pitching reports labeled “VE” for “Verducci Effect.”

Stone noted in his January column that in 2010, Pineda pitched 139.1 innings. He started 25 games, splitting his work between Double-A and Triple-A.

In 2011, Pineda started 28 games for the Seattle Mariners and pitched one inning in the All-Star Game for a total of 172 innings.  From 2010 to 2011, Pineda increased his workload by 32.2 innings, which qualifies for the “Verducci Effect.”

The Mariners monitored Pineda carefully. He always was given at least five days of rest between starts. Here is the list: Six, 10, five, six, 10, six, six, six, six, six, seven, 11.

Stone thought that Pineda would probably be fine, but he issued a foreboding warning. He wrote:

“The blunt fact is that there is no guarantee Pineda will stay healthy. The sordid history of young phenom pitchers suggests otherwise.”

The list of recent pitchers that looked like future aces but that struggled, primarily due to injury include: Mark Prior, Scott Kazmir, Rich Harden, Dontrelle Willis, Oliver Perez and Anibal Sanchez.

The Yankees made a trade that they thought would strengthen the team without spending a lot of money. It was the right move, but one thing I always remember was the “rule” that was almost always followed during the 1950s, 1960s and most of the 1970s.

Never trade an everyday player for a pitcher.

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