March 05, 2011; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
3:15 UPDATE - Tweet from Keith Law regarding Pineda's velocity one year ago today... THAT'S a tad unnerving.
Saw him on 3/7/11. 93-96. "@Jbeck73: @keithlaw Pineda's velocity yesterday is meaningless unless we know what it was at this time last yr"
Perusing the internet on this fine morning, I came across a striking compilation of tweets from Ken Rosenthal. Brandon C mentioned it in a comment during this morning's news, but I'd like to quickly bring it to the forefront.
I wasn't able to watch the first two innings of yesterday's Spring Training exhibition between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees, but apparently Michael Pineda struggled with his fastball velocity.
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal Scouts yesterday had #Yankees' Pineda at 88-91 - "and there was some effort to get to 91," one said. Pineda averaged 94.7 last year. #MLB
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal Re: Previous tweet on Pineda. Yes, it's early. But scouts were taken aback, asking each other if readings were accurate. #MLB
Brief analysis after the jump...
Pineda has made it known that he was focused on his command and change-up yesterday, possibly sacrificing his velocity in the process. His first outing of the season was merely two innings of work on March 5th, a solid month before the Yankees return to regular season action against the Tampa Bay Rays. While his relatively steep dip in fastball velocity could be cause for concern if the issue persists, it's simply unreasonable to draw a conclusion that he's "lost it" after a short Spring Training start.
Also, let's remember that Pineda is 6'7", 280 lbs. As we witnessed out west last season, his sheer mammoth size is enough to generate a daunting velocity on his fastball.
If any of you out there are bored in the meantime, there's been somewhat extensive research on the correlation between date, temperature and velocity on fastballs by Baseball Prospectus.
Granted, it's extremely difficult to draw up comparisons of Pineda's start yesterday with previous pitchers that have gotten off to a slow Spring Training start, velocity-wise (due to the fact that PitchFX hasn't covered every single Spring Training game), but the research still makes one consider a multitude of factors that could go into shaping velocity.
Is there reason to worry about Pineda? Probably not. We'll be able to better analyze that question after a handful of Spring Training starts where we can throw together a better sample size. But I'd cast my vote toward Pineda sacrificing velocity for command yesterday, and not look too far past that.