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Mariners won’t limit rookie Michael Pineda’s workload

Jun 27, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT

Michael Pineda AP

Back in April the Mariners indicated that they planned to limit Michael Pineda‘s workload, but never got into specifics as pitching coach Carl Willis said: “We’ll come up with a number, maybe another month in.”

We’re now another two months in and apparently they’ve changed their minds, at least somewhat, as Willis told Greg Johns of MLB.com that they plan to “manage his game-to-game pitch count and inning-to-inning pitch count” instead of removing Pineda from the rotation at any point.

Pineda is on pace to throw 200 innings after throwing 139 innings in the minors last season, but manager Eric Wedge told Johns that he believes the amount of high-pressure work is more important to monitor than the 22-year-old rookie’s overall innings count.

Pineda has thrown 96 innings with a 2.59 ERA, .199 opponents’ batting average, and 94/27 K/BB ratio, so his dominance along with the Mariners surprisingly being just 1.5 games out of first place may have changed the team’s focus somewhat regarding Pineda. That temptation is certainly understandable, but hopefully they can still find a reasonable way to keep him from adding 50 percent more innings to last year’s workload.

  1. trevorb06 - Jun 27, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    They shouldn’t pay attention so much to innings, more so to actual pitches thrown in a game. You can have a 130 pitch complete game or a 5-6 inning tough game where you throw the same. As long as they keep an eye on his pitch count during the game they should be able to gauge him well.

  2. cur68 - Jun 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    They really should limit his work load. @ 22 he could still not be done growing. That amount of work on a growing kid can cause damage.

    • mordecofe - Jun 27, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Obviously he’s an outlier, but that kind of workload has been fine for Felix *so far.*

      I agree with Trevor – Pineda has not had many stressful innings, so I think he’s in good shape for the rest of the season, at least for now. And he’s pretty efficient, especially for such a young kid.

  3. Paul Bourdett - Jun 27, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Felix threw 149 innings at 18, 172 at 19, 191 at 20, 190 at 21, 200 at 22.

    Pineda threw 59 innings at 18, 138 at 19, got hurt at 20 when he only threw 44. Threw 139 at 21 and we’re looking at 200 at 22.

    Big difference in workload progression (and even then, Felix suffered an elbow injury in his age 21 season). Pineda already has an extensive history of elbow/forearm issues. It’s not a guarantee he’ll get hurt if the M’s proceed according to their plan (or any other pitcher who sees a significant innings jump), but high-leverage or not, it’s unwise to let him throw anything close to 200 frames.

    Mat Latos’ 2011 (started with injury, hasn’t been dominant this year) should serve as a warning.

  4. foreverchipper10 - Jun 27, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    They should probably rest him during this Braves series (if he is supposed to pitch that is, I haven’t looked at the matchups.)

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