Mariners plan to limit 22-year-old Michael Pineda’s workload

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Michael Pineda has been fantastic through four starts with a 1.78 ERA, .202 opponents’ batting average, and 21/9 K/BB ratio in 25 innings, but pitching coach Carl Willis indicated yesterday that the Mariners plan to limit the 22-year-old’s workload.

Doug Miller of MLB.com notes that in 2006 the Mariners capped a 20-year-old Felix Hernandez’s innings at 200 total between spring training and the regular season, but Willis stopped short of saying Pineda will be given the same limit.

Pineda threw 139 innings in the minors last season, but Willis told Miller that “we’ll come up with a number, maybe another month in” and in the meantime will likely keep him under 105 pitches in each start. His season-high is 103 so far.

Willis explained that the Mariners may use off days to give him extra rest between starts rather than keeping Pineda on a regular schedule and then shutting him down with multiple starts remaining late in the season. Miller speculates that Pineda will ultimately be limited to around 175 innings.

In addition to the minuscule ERA and nice strikeout total Pineda leads all MLB starters in average fastball velocity at 95.9 miles per hour and no one else is above 94.5 mph.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.