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Will the Mariners cap Michael Pineda’s innings?

Jun 2, 2011, 12:06 PM EST

Michael Pineda AP

Buster Olney raises that question this morning, noting that Mariners’ rookie Michael Pineda has thrown 70 innings so far this year and that, before this year, his high was 139.1.  The question he asks is whether the Mariners might cap his innings at some transitional step up — like, say, 170 innings — so as not to overwork the lad.

I don’t know the answer to that. And I don’t know that anyone has a monopoly on wisdom on the subject. As Olney notes, Tim Lincecum was allowed to run wild as a young man and it hasn’t harmed him any.  Other teams are more careful with young arms and have mixed results.

I can’t help but look at Felix Hernandez‘s career numbers, however, and think that the Mariners aren’t going to go out of their way to limit him. When Hernandez was 18, they had him jump from 60 to around 149 minor league innings.  The next year he did 80+ innings at both the major league and minor league levels. Starting at age 20 he went 191, 190, 200, 238, 249.

Yes, there was a decent progression with King Felix before he went into full-on workhorse mode, but he was throwing a huge number of innings years before he was Pineda’s age (22). And the Mariners team on which Pineda pitches is only 1.5 games out of first place right now.

My sense — really, just my guess — is that his “big leap” in innings year has already happened, and that unless he starts to lose effectiveness, the M’s are going to let him push 200 innings like they let Hernandez do in his first full season in the majors, when he was two years younger than Pineda is now.

  1. sknut - Jun 2, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    There is no reason to cap the innings until you see signs of fatigue or injury.

  2. aschwartz2011 - Jun 2, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Joba Rules worked so well. Why would any question that logic.

    • JBerardi - Jun 2, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      Yeah, but the Joba rules were just ridiculous and silly. A simple innings cap, like Seattle used with Felix, or Cleveland used with CC, makes a lot more sense.

      For all the people who shit on pitch counts and innings limits, there’s a hell of a lot of good young pitching around these days. Do you think these two things could MAYBE be related in some way?

  3. Conor Dowley - Jun 2, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Pineda’s a little different from Felix, though. Different regime, and he had an elbow injury that limited him to 40-ish innings in 2009. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he caps out at 175-180 innings this year just to be on the safe side.

    • JBerardi - Jun 2, 2011 at 3:26 PM

      I think he will. I mean, what’s the downside, really? If the Mariners had a chance this year, it would be different, but why mess around with nothing at stake?

  4. heyitstodd - Jun 2, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I agree with Conor’s point about different people in control now. Whether or not they limit Pineda’s innings this year, it has more to do with Jack Zduriencik than the Mariners’ handling of Felix. My guess is that they will periodically skip him in the rotation, reset him to the back of the rotation after the All-Star break, etc. I don’t believe they’ll be in contention late in the season, so shutting him down early is quite likely IMO.

  5. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    When the M’s are 15 games out of the Wild Card on Aug 15th this wont even be an issue, case closed

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