Michael Pineda: Continues to Impress for Seattle Mariners

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIApril 13, 2011

Michael Pineda
Michael PinedaOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Michael Pineda has gotten off to a great start for the Mariners, and he has been one of the lone bright spots for a Mariners team that has struggled during the first two weeks of the season.

Pineda threw a solid game against the Rangers in his first big-league start, allowing three runs in six innings pitched.

Pineda dominated the Blue Jays for seven innings in last night's start, and he did not allow any runs until the eighth inning, when he seemed to run out of gas. His final line was 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

Some of Pineda's weaknesses were not on display last night. He displayed great control, throwing 71.8 percent of his pitches for strikes, and recorded a first-pitch strike 79.3 percent of the time to Blue Jays hitters.

Pineda also handled left-handed hitters, allowing only two singles to Corey Patterson and striking out two. He noticeably threw more sliders to left-handed hitters, which kept them from waiting on his power fastball.

Pineda had explosive stuff throughout the night. He had the Blue Jays swing and miss 17 percent of the time and had 14 total swinging strikes on his fastball. He averaged 95.3 mph on the pitch throughout the night. He occasionally topped out at 98, and he recorded six of his seven strikeouts on the pitch. He allowed only one single on a fastball, in the eighth inning, and he maintained at 97 mph during his last inning.

The lack of ground balls does worry me a bit, but pitching in Safeco and his ability to induce infield fly balls should make up for that weakness. Pineda's changeup will need to improve if he wants to continue his success throughout the season. It averages 89 mph (so Pitch F/X calls it a fastball), and he has trouble throwing it for strikes. His slider is great against righties, but I don't think he can rely on it as an out pitch against left-handers.  

Besides those few negatives, Pineda has shown baseball that he can navigate through a major-league lineup with tremendous success.