Quick Hit: Two-Strike Mike

Pineda 2-Strikes vs HOU It's foolish to make too much out of one start, but take a look at that pitch plot from Michael Pineda's start last night.  That's pitch location broken down by strikes in the count and the yellow dots indicate where his 2-strike pitches were thrown.  Unless you have some kind of color blindness, you can see that a lot of those 2-strike pitches are located in the strike zone and too many of those pitches in the strike zone are in the middle portion of it.

As I discussed in the game recap, poor 2-strike pitch location was a problem for Pineda again last night.  It wasn't his downfall, as all the home runs off him came early in the count, but it perfectly exemplifies the command and location problems that have hounded him during his time in pinstripes.  We should be seeing a lot more of those yellow dots down and out of the strike zone, in places where hitters either can't make contact and strike out or make weaker contact that leads to easy outs from the defense.  I only count 3 of those such pitches, compared to 13 in the strike zone.

I'm sure the cold weather had something to do with Pineda's location struggles last night, especially when it comes to his slider.  It would be a gross over-reaction to say that last night's poor showing is a predictor of things to come this season.  At the same time, this is not a new problem for Pineda and it is one that he needs to correct regardless of what the weather is.  We know he's got the stuff and the command to be a very good starting pitcher.  That's reflected in his K and BB rates and we've seen him be dominant in a few starts.  But he needs to be better with 2 strikes and the best way to do that is to throw more pitches out of the strike zone.  2-strike counts are not the time to let a hitter square the ball up.