Michael Pineda: Pros and Cons of His Move to Yankee Stadium

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IIFebruary 12, 2012

Michael Pineda: Pros and Cons of His Move to Yankee Stadium

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    Michael Pineda is moving from Seattle to New York this offseason. Most people think this move will hurt Pineda a lot, but I am not so sure. There are both pros and cons for Pineda in New York compared to Seattle.

    We all know that Safeco Field is a pitcher's heaven, while Yankee Stadium is a hitter's heaven and that the AL East is full of offensive juggernauts, but there are positives too.

    How will this move effect Michael Pineda in 2012?

    Let's find out. 

Pro: Better Offense

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    The best way to take pressure off of a pitcher is to give him a lead. If he has a lead, he no longer feels like he has to pitch perfectly, which leads to a calmer and better approach.

    The New York Yankees have one of the better offenses in the majors, which should give him plenty of leads to work with.

    The Yankees were second in the majors with 867 runs scored, while the Mariners were last in the majors with 556 runs scored. That is a 311-run difference, or 1.92 runs per game. Imagine how it must feel for Pineda to know he is going to get two runs more in run support per game.

    The Yankees offense is going to get even better in 2012 with a healthy Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano hitting his prime and Mark Teixeira having much better luck (he had the third-lowest BABIP in the majors in 2011 with a .239 BABIP).

    Knowing a dynamic offense is behind him will give Pineda a huge confidence boost.

Con: Short Porches

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    In 2011, Pineda posted a 36 percent ground-ball rate and 0.95 HR/9. Neither of those numbers bode well for the hitter's heaven we call Yankee Stadium.

    You can also look at his home/away splits:

    Home: 77 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .182 BAA, 1.05 HR/9

    Away: 94 IP, 4.40 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .234 BAA, 0.86 HR/9

    This does not look good, and it can be attributed to the size of Safeco Field. Safeco Field measures in at 331 feet in left field, 390 feet in left-center field, 405 feet in center field, 385 feet in right-center field and 326 feet in right field.

    Yankee Stadium, on the other hand, measures in at 318 feet in left field, 399 feet in left-center field, 408 feet in center field, 385 feet in right-center field and 314 feet in right field.

    Pineda will have to keep his ground-ball and home-run rate down in order to not become a victim of the short porches in Yankee Stadium.

Pro: Better Bullpen

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    A bullpen led by Mariano Rivera and David Robertson can only help a pitcher. Pineda can now exit close games knowing the bullpen will shut down the opposing team.

    In 2011, the Yankees bullpen had a 3.12 ERA and an 8.5 K/9. The Mariners bullpen, on the other hand, had a 3.61 ERA and a 6.5 K/9. Pineda will have less pressure to shut down the opposing team when he knows one of the best bullpens in baseball is sitting right behind him to finish the game.

    In 2011, Michael Pineda had a 3.74 ERA, but if the Mariners bullpen was better, it would have been much better.

    The Mariners bullpen inherited 11 base runners from Pineda in 2011 and allowed eight of them to score, which is a ridiculous 72.7 percent rate. The average rate in the majors was 31.2 percent, and the Yankees' rate was an incredible 24.9 percent.

    If the bullpen allowed four of the 11 runners—36.4 percent, or slightly above the league average—Pineda would have had a 3.53 ERA. And if the bullpen allowed three of the 11 runners—27.3 percent, or slightly above the Yankees bullpen rate—Pineda would have had a 3.47 ERA.

    A great bullpen will help Michael Pineda immensely in 2012.

Con: Pressure of New York

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    We all know about the pressure of pitching in New York. The bright lights and over 100,000 eyes looking at you in Yankee Stadium alone can make a good pitcher shrink.

    Add in the high expectations to win every game and the high amount of scrutiny, and it is a wonder anybody can pitch there.

    A better offense and bullpen would lessen the pressure Pineda will feel if he still pitched in Seattle, but New York is on a whole new level.

Pro: Better Pitching Coach

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    Larry Rothschild, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia.

    Michael Pineda has a change-up, but you probably would not know it unless you watch him very closely when he pitches or read his scouting reports, because he only used it three percent of the time in 2011.

    There is a reason for that: It is unfinished.

    When he has his change-up locked down, which he does occasionally, it is a true plus pitch. But it will take some work with Yankee pitching coach Larry Rothschild before he is comfortable using it as a true complement to his fastball.

    Pineda's incredibly high 0.95 HR/9 in 2011, despite pitching 45 percent of his innings at home, can be attributed to this pitch. He tends to leave it floating in the middle of the zone without much drop, which means it might as well be batting practice for major league hitters.

    If he can work on this pitch and not use it very often until he has mastered both pitching and locating it, he can keep down his number of fly balls and home runs.

    When he does master this pitch, which could be sometime in 2012, he will have three pitches that he can locate and make hitters swing and miss.

    Throw in great mentors, such as CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera, and Pineda is in great hands to succeed.

Con: Pitching in the AL East

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    The Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Oakland Athletics averaged 722 runs scored in 2011, while the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles averaged 758 runs scored in 2011. That means Pineda's divisional opponents score an average of 0.22 more runs per game in the AL East than the AL West.

    Contrary to popular belief, Pineda did not pad his stats against the weaker AL West. In 2011, he posted a 4.50 ERA against the AL West. In 2011, Pineda posted a 4.66 ERA against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays and Orioles, which is higher but not much different.

    Pineda will have a tougher time pitcher in the AL East than the AL West in 2012, but not as much as you think.

Pro: Better, More Experienced Defense

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    Which group of infielders would you rather have behind you?

    Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez? Or Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan and Kyle Seager?

    The Yankees quartet owns 12 total Gold Gloves, while the Mariners quartet owns zero Gold Gloves. For people who love sabermetrics, the Yankees' four infielders averaged a 4.33 UZR/150 in 2011, compared to a 1.48 UZR/150 by the Mariners infielders.

    This is an easy question: It is not even close. The Yankees have by far the better defensive infield.

Con: Postseason Experience

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    The New York Yankees care about one thing each season: winning the World Series.

    Can you really penalize Michael Pineda for never pitching in the postseason when he has only been in the majors for one season and it was with the Seattle Mariners? No, but that does not change the fact that he has never pitched in the postseason. There is no way of knowing how he will do.

    Ivan Nova pitched very well in his first postseason, so there is a lot of hope for Pineda, but for someone with no experience, it is a big unknown.

    The Yankees and their fans will just have to wait until October to see if Pineda is ready for the big stage.