Thursday, August 18, 2005

What happened to Joel Pineiro?

Two years ago, Joel Pineiro was going to be the linchpin of our future rotation, backed up by a plethora of young arms nearing the majors. Those young arms haven't worked out so well for mostly medical reasons. Besides, young pitchers are risky commodities, being so prone to injury. But Pineiro was a good bet. What happened?

Why have we gone from extolling his virtures to calling for his outright release? He's been a lousy pitcher this year, mostly because of he's lost the ability to strike batters out. Look at this:

2000 5.59 19.1  4.7 6.1  .333  .481
2001 2.03 75.1  6.7 2.5  .235  .263
2002 3.24 194.1 6.3 2.5  .285  .411
2003 3.78 212.2 6.4 3.2  .276  .359
2004 4.67 141.2 7.1 2.7  .299  .442
2005 5.56 139.1 4.8 2.8  .319  .468
We can see that, in 01 and 03, he did a better job (if we're going to give him credit for it) keeping hitters from making solid contact. Batting Average on Balls In Play and Slugging Allowed were both down those years. He walked more batters in 03, but took care of that in '04. This year, however, the big change is in his inability to strike batters out. Coupled with a much higher BABIP, it has spelled disaster.

The best theory I've heard to explain this is that Pineiro's health isn't at 100%, and he doesn't quite have the velocity he once did. Batters put the ball in play when they use to miss entirely, and are making solid contact when they didn't before, because they have a little bit longer to adjust. Or, a lingering injury is compromising his control.

Either way, the cause would be an injury--which is far different from saying that he simply lost the ability to pitch. If Joel is injured, then that problem needs to be diagnosed first, before we give up on him. We need to know if this is an injury that will keep him from being good again (see "labrum, torn"), or one that, once healed, will not prevent him from returing to form. Calling for Pineiro's release now is absurdly premature.

1 comment:

andy said...

Another theory is that hes off the roids and is now finished.