Michael Pineda: 100 MPH

Haven't seen anybody mention this around the blog-o-sphere, but during Sunday's TV broadcast, Sims and Blowers were talking about Pineda.  Sims, Neihaus and Rizzs were at Pineda's last performance; Blowers hadn't been.


Sims, IIRC, asked Blowers if he'd gotten a chance to see Pineda.

"No, huh-uh.  I heard he was throwing a hundred."

Sims falls out of his chair.  "Oh, man, Mike, it was siiiiiiick.  Dave and Rick and I were screaming up in the booth.  It was insane" (or some such see-you-and-raise).

Blowers says something I forget...

Sims:  "He doesn't walk people, either."


The gist from Sims is that Pineda was throwing harder than any of the three of them had ever witnessed a pitcher throw -- remember, Neihaus broadcast the Nolan Ryan Angels in the 70's -- and that Pineda was doing it on a pitch-in, pitch-out basis.

I don't say that Pineda throws harder than Ryan.  That's humanly impossible.  But no doubt, Pineda is now getting consistently reported as Armando Benitez, Rob Nenn velocity.


Q.  Have you seen him?

A.  A little vid.  And the 48/6 control at High Desert.  And the gnat-at-1000-yards scouting reports.  etc.   We know what his body and throwing motion looks like, have seen a few pitches.


Q.  Will his elbow hold up?

A1.  Have you ever seen a Hardball Times study that looked like the below?

  • In 2004, we took 100 19-year-olds, 50 of whom complained of elbow pain and 50 of whom did not
  • Over the next five years, 27 of the 50 who complained of elbow pain had TJ during the five years, but only 18 of the 50 who didn't, had such surgery

Me neither.  So unless you have, then we're all in the same boat on Pineda:  we're just guessing.

It's not a question of sabermetrics, "no evidence suggests" or any of that malarkey, on Pineda's elbow.  We're all in the CF bleachers munching peanuts.  (Well, except maybe G-Moneyball!)


Q.  Will his elbow hold up?

A2.  SSI will venture this much:  most young pitchers report pain coming up.  Did Brandon Morrow ever report soreness with the M's?  It's part of baseball.

We remember Roger Clemens, as a prized rook, looking like he'd never pitch a full season:  big shoulder problems right out of college.


Q.  Does the short-arming put stress on his elbow?

A3.  It puts stress on the elbow tendons, as opposed to the ligaments.

Short-arm deliveries employ a shorter arc -- that's a physical fact.  It takes more muscle power to accelerate a ball to the same speed -- that's Newtonian physics (and you can hit drmikemarshall.com if you want a better source than me).

But I can't see any reason at all that the ligaments would get leveraged more tightly, can you?


It sounds funny, but I (Jeff) happen to have pretty much the same throwing motion as Pineda, am a similar weight (though a few inches shorter, LOL) and throw a football by applying as much power as my arm can possibly generate.

Throw too much -- say, 200 down-and-outs as hard as I can --, and my elbow tendon starts barking.  Loudly.  We used to call this "throwing your arm out."

There have been times I wanted somebody to blow my head off.  But, a week's rest, and it's back to 100%.  It's just an inflamed muscle -- not ripping and tearing of a non*-regenerating ligament.

Anyway, don't forget that there isn't just TJ and MCL's in the pitching world.  There's also tendinitis, and just at a guess, I'd assume that this was the more likely (and less-scary) risk for Pineda.


Needless to say I understand that I don't have an M.D.  But this is just a baseball chat, and my own experiences have been pretty close to Pineda's.  We can comment on his situation, allowing for the fact that we're just speculating.

I'm physically similar to (though inferior to!) Pineda, use the same motion, have had the same problems for 35 years.  Take it or leave it, as being better than nothing, or not.  :- )


Part 2


Taro's picture

If Pineda is going to average 94 with command than hes almost certainly better than any pitcher on the 25-man either than Felix and Lee.
Where was that vid again? Pineda deserves a more throrough look before jumping into any conclusions.


It will be interestinf what applications platlet rich plasma will have for these types of minor-moderate situations.  No reason the growth factors also shouldn't improve healing in surrgery too.


Agreed.  Mid-90's with command is basically unhittable before you even talk about anything else.  A pitcher like that has to make a mistake, leave the ball out-and-over, to get hit.
But now they're saying Benitez velo?!?
If you search Baker's archives for the vid and find the link, let us know amigo :-) else I'll try and find it later.


Sounds like the practice is being used more and more, with sports injuries, already...

moe's picture

OK..probably beating a dead horse here...but I'll point out again that Nolan Ryan pitched a total of 37 innings above A ball.
He had a fair arm if I remember correctly.  Point being...If Pineda has that kind of velocity and location he needs to be in Tacoma within the month and in Seattle by early summer.
If his arm is big league...then he's big league.  There is no indication he's a head case.  Phenoms happen.  You're not doing them much good playing against overmatched hacks.


You'll find many baseball legends who started pitching in the majors at 19 (Pineda is 21 this season).  We went through this some when Felix came up... Bert Blyleven, Dwight Gooden, Smokey Joe Wood, Bob Feller, as well as Gary Nolan, Larry Dierker, and others.
I don't mind a general principle being emphasized, but hate to see it taken as Absolute Truth, present company excepted.
Felix threw 84 innings in Safeco when he was 19 years old.  Didn't kill him.
But again, I acknowledge that Pineda was never going to be considered for the 25-man.

moe's picture

But again, I acknowledge that Pineda was never going to be considered for the 25-man.
Point well made.  But as arms tweak or guys fail then Pineda out to be on the short (very) list (if all reports are right) to be in Tacoma then Seattle.
Blyleven and Gooden and Dierker were great mentions, as well.  Unless you watched Gooden in those first 2 or 3 years you have no idea just how dominant he was....amazing....before he became a hopped up joke-shell of himself.  His second year might be the most dominating pitching season I can remember watching (I was 10 during the summer of '68 when Gibson was unhittable, so I don't quite remember it...14 when Carlton lit up the summer of '72...I do remember that one.  I don't think it was the equl of Doc's second season) 
Look it up young guys.
BTW...Of the guys you mentioned, minus Nolan and Wood, all were up early and had long productive careers!  Early ripe does not necessarily mean, pitching-wise, early rot.

moe's picture

ought to be....Sheesh

shields's picture

I wonder how much of the high 90s heat is just him amped up to be pitching in front of big league coaches and players.  Once the season starts, where is that velo going to be sitting?  93-94-95, perhaps.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.


Even Randy Johnson sat at 95-97.  :- )   but as we all know, a guy who touches 100 is going to have one of the highest-velo FB's on Fangraphs...
If  a guy only has X number of bullets in the arm, he might as well be firing them for the M's, Jon.  I read it on the internet :- )

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