Let’s talk about Pineda. We all hoped he’d be good, but we never thought he would be this good, this soon.
Coming into the year, Pineda was on a short list of potentially exciting rookie pitchers. Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays and Kyle Drabek of the Blue Jays were thought to be the top rookie starters this year but Pineda has been much better than both. Hellickson has been pretty good so far, starting off 7-4, striking out 52 with a 3.03 ERA. Drabek, however, has been… disappointing. His record stands at 4-5 and he had only struck out 48 while walking 52. With an ERA of 5.70 and a FIP of 5.43, Drabek looks to be in for a rough season. Any Mariners fan can tell you that Pineda has been fantastic. While his record isn’t quite as good as Hellickson (6-4), he has struck out 80 and his ERA is at 2.72. Pineda is a big reason people in Seattle are actually thinking about the possibility of the playoffs.
But Pineda is a rookie. A 22-year old rookie. We have seen what happens when a young pitcher throws a lot of innings. Remember Mark Prior? He was striking out 11 batters per nine innings during his rookie year. After throwing 211 innings in his second year, injuries caught up with him and he was never the same. Pineda is already at 82.2 innings this year. He has never thrown more than 138.1 innings in one season.
This could put the Mariners into an interesting situation later in the year. Do they shut him down to make sure he doesn’t get hurt and risk not making the playoffs? Or do they push forward and hope he doesn’t get hurt? Well, I have a solution. Let him pitch in the rotation until August, and then move him to the bullpen. If the Mariners can make the playoffs, they could use him in crucial spots like Tampa Bay did with David Price during his rookie season.
Sure, it’s not ideal. I would love to see the Mariners make the playoffs and go with a three man rotation of Felix, Pineda and Bedard (assuming he stays healthy). But it’s not worth the risk. I don’t want to see them sacrifice the future for this year. We’ve waited long enough, we can wait one more year.