The radar here at Champion Stadium showed Michael Pineda sitting around 89-91 with his fastball — pretty much the same as last time out — but this time he occasionally hit 93 and topped out at 94. That’s a step up from his first outing, and the Yankees took today as a solid step forward.
“We saw his velocity rise up today,” Joe Girardi said. “He threw some changeups, which I wanted to see. I think his slider was pretty good today, and he used it when he got behind in the count to get back in the count. I thought it was a step in the right direction.”
Pineda said he expects to be throwing harder and harder with every spring start, and that’s not only because of a natural increase in arm strength. Pineda isn’t trying to throw his fastball at max effort early in spring training.
“I conserve a little bit (of) my energy,” he said. “I can try, when I pitch again, throwing a little more hard and a little more hard and a little more hard. (During) my last start in spring training, I’m throwing harder… I don’t focus right now on my velo. I’m focused right now on competing on the mound and making a good pitch. That’s it.”
Both Pineda and Girardi estimated a total of eight changeups from Pineda, but it was his slider that was more effective. More than in his previous start against the Phillies, Pineda’s slider began to really look like a reliable weapon today. At this point, it seems the Yankees would rather see improvement of his offspeed pitches and command of the strike zone rather than a few 96 mph fastballs.
“I never want a pitcher going out there and just trying to air it out,” Girardi said. “That’s not pitching. As he develops more and more arm strength you’ll see more consistent (velocity). On the board I saw a lot of 93s today, and that’s up from the other day, and that’s what you expect. You expect that arm to continue to build.”