Pineiro's first start of the season is an important one. Less so because of the outcome of the game, moreso because he's new to the Los Angeles rotation, essentially taking the place of John Lackey, and there are some expectations riding on him. Behind talented the talented arms of Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, a good season by Pineiro could give the Angels one of the deepest rotations in the American League.
Never a true strikeout pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, Pineiro's strikeout rates have been Nick Blackburn-esque the last two seasons with the Cardinals. In the American League it's hard to see him improving on that rate. To get by he needs to continue to limit his walks (just 1.14 BB/9 in 2009), and there are other traits from 2009 that the Angels would like to see him carry forward. First, his ridiculous ground-ball percentage (60.5% 2009, 48.6% career) and second, his homer to fly ball ratio (6.5% 2009, 11.2% career which is about average league wide).
He threw his fastball 70% of the time last season, so it would behoove the Twins to sit on it and see if they can take advantage. That fastball comes in around 90 mph, and Pineiro will also throw a pretty good changeup in the mid to lower 80's. His curve is mid to uppoer 70's and was his best pitch in 2009, while the slider is mid 80's and not as effective of a breaking ball.
Slowey has the potential to surprise a lot of people this season. Injuries last season cost him what looked to be a very good year, so while nationally he's flown under-the-radar as a bit of a dark horse guy, Twins Territory has him poised for a breakout season. He'll turn 26 in early May.
Slowey's ability to miss bats while limiting walks makes him, essentially, Scott Baker with better stuff and more to prove. His strikeout-per-walk ratio is a ridiculous 4.90. The fastball registers right around 90 with some movement, and when he's at his best both his slider (low to mid 80's) and curveball (low to mid 70's) can be extremely effective. Slowey also throws a good changeup.
When he was in his groove last season, pre-injury, Slowey strung together a dozen starts where he allowed more than three earned runs just twice. He walked more that two batters just once, and retired 60 on strikes in 74 innings. That's the kind of pitcher the Twins are looking for this season, and I'm excited to see what Kevin brings tonight.