June 23, 2021

Michael Pineda Was Elite at Pitch Tunneling (FanGraphs)

The Minnesota Twins brought back another piece of their 2019 starting rotation when they re-signed righty Michael Pineda to a two-year, $20-million contract (pending physical). With another 39 games left in his 60-game suspension due to testing positive for PEDs (hydrochlorothiazide), the deal works out to roughly $17.6 million over two years.

Prior to his suspension in September, Pineda was instrumental in helping the Twins capture the American League Central. Anchored by a top-20 rated changeup (minimum 15% usage), Pineda accumulated 2.7 WAR (his highest mark since 2016) and posted his lowest ERA (4.01) in five years. The rest of Pineda’s stats were in line with his career averages, although his xFIP and hard-hit rate was by far the worst of his six seasons in the major leagues.

Nevertheless, Pineda was helped by an element of deception as he was one of the best overall pitch tunnelers of 2019, as exemplified in the chart below sorted by PreMax (average distance between back-to-back pitches at the tunnel point).

Top Overall Pitch Tunnelers, 2019

SOURCE: Baseball Prospectus

Impressively, Pineda is grouped with current back-to-back National League Cy Young Award…

Read “Michael Pineda Was Elite at Pitch Tunneling” at FanGraphs