=== Michael Pineda's Changeup ===
As the M's season went fszzzzlt, my primary goal for the ballclub was for Michael Pineda to finish with more K's than IP. :- )
He's doing it, as are two other AL pitchers, Justin Verlander and Brandon Morrow.
His strikeouts are over 9.0 in July, August, and September -- even as Pineda has eliminated his fly ball tendencies in the second half of 2011. Let me read that sentence again.
Pineda threw 1.5 and even 2.0 fly ball ratios in the 1st half, as he threw all those fastballs over hitters' bats for strikeouts and flyouts.
But Pineda has thrown more grounders than flyballs in the 2nd half -- he is now a slightly groundball pitcher -- and yet he has fanned more hitters in the 2nd half than in the first.
He's a terrific young pitcher who is also getting better, quickly. Yet folks still wring their hands over his future. You'd think they'd never seen a legit rookie All-Star SP before. Oh, wait....
He doesn't, need a change, that is. His power slider IS a change.
But he'll get one, because a changeup isn't that hard to throw for guys like him.
He threw a few changeups against Oakland on Sept. 3, nine (9) changeups to be exact, and then told the press that he was delighted with his changeup and that he'd thrown a lot of them. True, the F/X data on it was good -- it had sink and 9 inches of armside run.
Then, on Sept. 10, he threw his changeup once, for a ball. That day, he threw 20 (twenty!!) swinging strikes at the Royals. He got 12 swinging strikes on 43 sliders. Doug Fister gets 12 swinging strikes on 250 anythings.
CC Sabathia threw fastball-curve as a rookie, and FB-curve only. Then he started mixing changes in his second year, not 'cause he has to, but because he could. Anybody could, with an arm like that.
Against LEFT hand hitters, on the year, Pineda has got 7.8 strikeouts, 2.6 walks, and 0.8 homers allowed. As Arnold said while dangling a slimeball over a cliff, "This iss my weak ahm."
Don't focus your hand-wringing on your best players. Focus your hand-wringing on your problems. Please, I am begging you on bended knee, STOP WORRYING ABOUT MICHAEL PINEDA.
He's great. That's all.