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.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.