So last night, in Michael Pineda's four-inning start against the , we saw some good things and some bad things. On the one hand, he missed a lot of bats and threw a ton of strikes, but on the other, his location was inconsistent and several Brewers batters hit him pretty hard. I already summed up my thoughts in the recap, but it's a lazy afternoon so I decided I'd make a few .gifs to supplement the written material.
Shown below are six pitches, and only six pitches, but I think all six were pretty interesting. Off we go!
(1) Changeup to
This is one of the two changeups Pineda threw in his 11-pitch showdown against Boggs in the second. The positive here is that Pineda threw a two-strike offspeed pitch out of the zone, which he didn't do enough of otherwise. But while the movement's okay, look at the location. Bard wanted that pitch down and away, on the edge of the zone. Pineda missed by a foot. That's a dangerous place to miss with a changeup against a lefty, because if you leave it just a tiny bit elevated, it can fly a long way in the other direction.
(2) Fastball to Ryan Braun
First, the good result - a swinging strike! Pineda struck out one of the best right-handed batters in baseball! There's good movement and heat on that pitch, and Braun swung right through it. But again, note location. Bard wanted that pitch inside at the knees. Pineda missed away at the belt. Pineda's stuff is good enough that he can miss his spots against right-handed hitters and survive. This is just an example of what I meant when I said that, while Pineda threw a lot of strikes, his command wasn't superb.
(3) Slider to Ryan Braun
A nasty pitch, and maybe - maybe - the best slider Pineda threw all game. Notice that it came in a 1-0 count. Pineda has a lot of confidence in that pitch, and because Braun was expecting him to throw something over the plate, he was able to take advantage and expand the zone. This is something Pineda should be able to do more often when he improves. He'll be known as a guy who works in and around the zone, so when he's able to spot his offspeed stuff more consistently, he'll be able to use it in any count, and not necessarily over the plate.
(4) Slider to
Again, we see Pineda throw a low slider in a 1-0 count to a righty, and again, we see the righty swing through it, looking for something else. Pineda hit his spot and the pitch worked perfectly.
(5) Slider to Luis Cruz
...but then this pitch came next. Bard asked for pretty much the same exact slider. Pineda, though, missed up and missed in, giving Cruz a belt-high spinner right in his wheelhouse that a better hitter might have punished. Another strike thrown in the wrong spot.
(6) Changeup to Brandon Boggs
So we'll end on a high note, with probably the best changeup Pineda threw. I'm actually not wild about the location; Bard wanted it right in the middle of the plate. But that's right where Pineda put it, and one of the reasons it worked was because it was virtually identical to the previous fastball, only 9mph slower. So Boggs wound up out in front, expecting heat. The break on the pitch doesn't catch your eye the way it does with Felix's change, but we can't expect everybody to throw Felix's change, and this change will suit Pineda just fine if he can throw it consistently. He can't right now, but he could soon, with work.