A few hours ago, news broke that the Yankees finally shipped Jesus Montero to Seattle for their premium right-handed starting pitcher. However, despite a couple of years of rumors and suggestions, Felix Hernandez is not the one donning pinstripes – the Yankees landed 23-year-old (in five days, anyway) Michael Pineda instead.
While Pineda isn’t King Felix, he’s a pretty terrific young pitcher in his own right. He jumped directly into the Mariners rotation out of spring training last year and was good enough to make the All-Star team in his rookie season. And, while Safeco Field is a nice place for a rookie pitcher to learn his craft, Pineda did most of the good work on his own.
Among qualified AL starting pitchers last year, only Brandon Morrow and Justin Verlander posted a higher strikeout rate than Pineda, who whiffed 24.9% of the batters he faced. His K% was better than David Price, CC Sabathia, and yes, even Felix. Pineda’s live fastball and willingness to live up in the strike zone led to a lot of swinging strikes, and that had nothing to do with the park he played in.