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Drive-by recap:

Biggest Contribution: Joel Pineiro, +50.3%
Biggest Suckfest: Adrian Beltre, -16.8%
Most Important Hit: Betancourt single, +28.6%
Most Important Pitch: McEwing double, -9.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +63.0%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -16.2%

(What is this?)

It looks crazy to give Pineiro such a high rating for eight innings of three-run ball, but the reason for it is this - Joel induced two double play balls that Adrian Beltre screwed up, be it a problem with fielding the ball cleanly, or a problem throwing to second. For each of those plays, Pineiro was credited with a DP and Beltre was charged with a misplay. So, in terms of Win Probability Added, Joel really retired 27 batters tonight, not 24. As you can see pretty easily, it makes one hell of a difference.

Is Joel back? Let's see what he's done over his past three starts:

Innings: 22
Batters faced: 88
Baserunners: 25
Walks + HBP: 4
Strikeouts: 12
Home runs: 2
Groundballs: 29
Flyballs: 25
Strike%: 66.1%
Pitches/Inning: 14.1
BABIP: .271
ERA: 2.86
DERA: 4.03

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the new and improved Pitch-to-Contact Pineiro (curiously abbreviated as PCP). As percentages and prorated over a full season, Joel's strikeouts in his last three starts would rank as the lowest rate of his career, by a healthy margin. Thing is, so would his walks. Instead of nibbling around the corners, Joel is coming right at the strike zone, challenging the hitters instead of challenging himself. The results have been good, to say the least.

Does this sound familiar? It should - it's the same kind of thing Gil Meche did in the second half a year ago. Meche came back from Tacoma ready to pound the zone with strikes, which he did quite successfully. Although his strikeouts went down and his homers increased, Gil cut his walk rate and let the guys behind him do more of the work, which - given his 3.95 second half ERA - wasn't such a bad idea.

That's pretty much what Joel's done in his last three games, only without the home runs, since he's faced three pretty weak offenses (26th, 27th, and 29th in EqA). It's an approach which, if continued, could give him a little success, certainly more than he had doing whatever it was he did for the first four months. But here's where an important distinction needs to be made: there's a difference between being a good pitcher and being a good pitcher for the environment. In a pitcher-friendly ballpark with a swarming team defense behind him, Joel could put up a pretty shiny ERA as a strike-throwing dynamo. However, with another team in another stadium, the lack of strikeouts would really limit his potential performance ceiling. So, while Joel's been a pretty good pitcher in a Mariner context of late, I don't think you can really say that he's been a good pitcher, just. The Twins, White Sox, and Royals don't exactly feature lineups that punish guys who throw too many strikes, so Joel's been able to take advantage of this in avoiding the extra-base hits and the big innings. Let me know when he pitches well against a strong offense, and maybe then I'll give him a little more credit.

No time for anything else tonight. Series wraps up tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm PDT.