Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has a worrisome report about Michael Pineda’s velocity early in Yankees camp, writing that “scouts yesterday had Pineda at 88-91[miles per hour]” after he averaged 94.7 mph with his fastball last season.
He also quotes a scout as saying “and there was some effort to get to 91.” And then while noting it’s very early in spring training, Rosenthal adds that “scouts were taken aback, asking each other if readings were accurate.”
Now, in fairness to Pineda his diminished velocity in some early spring training action would probably have barely been noticed had he still be with the Mariners. On the other hand, Keith Law of ESPN.com says he scouted Pineda on March 7 of last season and clocked him at 93-96 mph, so it’s not just an “it’s early” thing.
On a related note, the Yankees have apparently been stressing to Pineda that he needs to work on improving his changeup and commit to throwing it more often, as they believe he needs a consistent third pitch to go with his mid-90s fastball and hard slider. Of course, if his velocity stays in the low-90s perfecting a third pitch will be the least of the Yankees’ concerns.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.