The Myth of Joel Pineiro
If you’ve been following the team for the last month, I’m certain you’ve heard about the rejuvenated Joel Pineiro. He’s finally getting healthy, he’s changed his delivery, he’s throwing the sharp curve more often, etc… You can even read about it in the P-I this morning. Jon Paul Morosi, who we like and is generally insightful, tosses out this little paragraph in the game recap:
Since (August 1st), however, Pineiro has pitched quite well. Take away his ghastly game in Minnesota on Aug. 21, in which he allowed eight runs and a career-high 13 hits, and he has a 2-1 record and 2.86 ERA since the start of August — which happens to correlate with the point Hernandez arrived and began pitching the day before each of his starts.
He even gives us a new reason for Joel’s resurgence; Felix is in town, so now Joel has someone to challenge himself against. So, we can add that to the list of theories for why Good Joel has returned.
Here’s the problem, though. Good Joel hasn’t returned. People are saying Joel is back. People are wrong.
Here’s a look at what most people remember as Good Pineiro, his 2002 season:
194 IP, 189 H, 24 HR, 54 BB, 136 K, 3.24 ERA
Now, here’s a closer look at 2002 Pineiro’s peripherals:
Walks – 7 percent of batters faced
Strikeouts – 17 percent of batters faced
Home Runs – 11 percent of fly balls allowed left the yard
G/F – 1.28
WHIP – 1.24
Pitches Per Batter Faced – 3.80
Fielding Independant ERA – 4.24
Those numbers aren’t bad, but they’re not spectacular, either.
Now, let’s look at his last six starts, you know, since the hands went up and Felix started pushing him and his stuff started coming back and all that.
41 1/3 IP, 46 H, 4 HR, 7 BB, 24 K, 4.13 ERA
Not a bad line, but not super revealing either. Let’s look closer.
Walks – 4 percent of batters faced
Strikeouts – 14 percent of batters faced
Home Runs- 7.6 percent of fly balls allowed left the yard
G/F – 1.12
WHIP – 1.28
Pitches Per Batter Faced – 3.54
Fielding Indpendant ERA -4.82
Last Six Start Pineiro isn’t even the same pitcher type as 2002 Pineiro. He cut his walkrate almost in half at the expense of his strikeout rate, and more of his flyballs are being caught by the outfielders instead of clearing the wall. Most research shows that isn’t a repeatable skill, though, so don’t get too caught up in believing that because Pineiro has allowed 4 homers when we’d expect him to allow 5 that he’s made some kind of step forward.
So, what we basically have had since August 1st is a strike-throwing machine who lets his defense do almost all of the work. In fact, if you want to compare Last Six Start Pineiro to a Mariner starter, here’s one that works pretty well: 2004 Ryan Franklin. Franklin’s peripherals from last year are pretty darn close to what we’ve seen Pineiro put up in the last 6 starts. And, well, Ryan Franklin wasn’t exactly a good pitcher last year.
Joel Pineiro hasn’t had any kind of revitalization. He has not been reborn, and he’s not on the verge of posting another year with 200 innings and an ERA in the low 3.00 range. If Pineiro continues to throw like we have seen the last six starts, we’ll have a $6 million contact pitcher who will look like he’s pitching well when the balls are getting hit to the fielders and will endure several games like that Minnesota start a few weeks ago. All in all, it’s not a very good pitcher. Joel Pineiro is not a very good pitcher.