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Grading the 2019 Twins: Michael Pineda

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Who passes — and who fails?

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins
After the previous article, it’s nice to write about a pitcher who threw well for the Twins last year.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Welcome back. I’m still not linking that mass of articles. Here’s the previous article (about Blake Parker) and the one before that (about Ehire Adrianza); the Adrianza piece contains links to that mass of articles.

It took a full year before Twins fans saw what Michael Pineda could bring to the rotation.

Pineda signed with Minnesota in December 2017 in the midst of his recovery from Tommy John surgery, started the subsequent season on the (then) 60-day DL, then tore his meniscus, preventing him from pitching at all in the majors in 2018. With the Twins adding minimally to the pitching staff in the 2018-19 off season, one of the stories entering the year was how Pineda would perform as the Twins’ third starter, especially after his surgery.

While the Twins kept Pineda on a strict count in his first start of the year, pulling him after only 40 pitches, those limits quickly slid off as Pineda began throwing as long as the rest of the Twins’ rotation and throwing well. Of the Twins’ five pitchers who started the most games, Pineda finished third in ERA (4.01), FIP (4.02), strikeout percentage (23.3 percent), WAR (2.7, by FanGraphs’ measure), and WPA (0.96) — all expected for a team’s third starter. Better yet, he led that group of five with a 1.158 WHIP, and won his last five decisions to post an 11-5 record. Not all his stats were superior — Pineda was last in that group with 1.42 home runs allowed per nine innings — but his performance ranged from respectable to very good throughout the year.

However, Pineda’s comeback season would cease in early September after testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide and receiving an 80-game suspension (later reduced to 60 games on appeal). As such, Pineda is still penciled in as the Twins’ number-three starter for 2020, but will miss the start of the season.

If Pineda’s 2019 is anything to go by, Pineda (now age 31) may not ascend to the peak of a team’s rotation, but he’s a valuable starter who, in the right role, will make a team’s pitching staff better. He does for the Twins.

Overall Grade: B (incomplete)

Poll

What grade would you give Michael Pineda’s 2019 season?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (10 votes)
  • 64%
    B
    (105 votes)
  • 20%
    C
    (34 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (8 votes)
164 votes total Vote Now