POTD Michael Pineda's Throwing Motion

=== Sidd Finch Dept. ===

Edit to add, we had a chance to slo-mo Pineda's throwing motion here tonight.   Now we got it.  :- )

What we had thought was an extreme short-arm motion, actually isn't, not as much as we thought it was.   What is strange is that Pineda under-rotates his torso, creating the same effect that short-arm pitchers get but through a different movement.


(Almost) all pitchers turn their numbers to the hitter at least a little bit, and 80%-90% of pitchers, you'll be able to get a glimpse of the ball on the 1B side of their bodies for a moment.  Tim Lincecum is the best example of this, turning so far that he like pinches his neck.  Erik Bedard also does this, and Felix has taken to copying Erik.

Pineda, on his backstroke, rotates his torso virtually not at all.  He simply drops his back knee and sort of slides his left side directly toward home plate -- in a sense without winding up.  Bizarre!   Jim Kaat used to do that.


As his hands break, Pineda does reach his hand back until his elbow is about 90% extended -- but because his torso is not rotated, the ball is actually pointing towards the SS side of 2B at this point.  (I don't ever remember seeing any other professional pitcher for whom this is true.)

"At the top," meaning at the moment of "zero gravity" in which he is all the way back, Pineda's torso is only very slightly turned -- maybe a few inches -- and the ball is behind him, hidden from the batter.


Pineda launches into his throughstroke using an incredibly powerful snap of his left hip and shoulder -- and his high right arm now bends again and coils behind his back, "winding the spring" and, coincidentally, keeping the ball in a spot that is completely blind to the hitter.

As his arm starts forward, it accelerates with obvious power, but our original observation remains -- the arc the ball travels to release point is much shorter than average.  So he needs more physical power to do the same work.

But it's an important clarification that his elbow is not particularly bent "at the top."  What is strange is that his torso turns only about 95 degrees to release point, rather than 135 degrees or more.


Pineda has an oddly loose and easy finish - he's one of those long-armed, loose guys who practically touches his left kidney with his hand as he finishes.


All of which helps to explain his "gnat-at-1,000-yard command" -- if we lesser mortals didn't have to rotate our torsos to generate power, we could keep better sight of the strike zone, and better balance etc., too.

...Maddux!  That's who I was trying to think of. ::taps chin::

Maddux didn't rotate much -- just sort of slid forward on the centerline.   Pineda does that, but Pineda uses even less rotation than you see Mad Dog using in the photo.

Maddux brought the ball down low on his backstroke, and hitters could see the ball over on the 1B side of his legs.  Pineda holds the ball about chest-high "at the top" and it remains slightly on the 3B side of his legs.  Other than that difference, you could find two dozen similarities between Pineda's and Maddux' throwing motions.

I wonder what would happen if Pineda brought the ball back lower to the ground, like Maddux.  In any case, Pineda's motion looks fine to me.  He is young, true, and throws awfully hard.  That in itself may be the issue.  Who knows how Maddux' principles would have meshed up with a 97 fastball...


Anyway, it's great work if you can get it.  A 20-year-old could do worse than to filch Greg Maddux' trade secrets.


Dr D

Klat Categories: 


Not sure why, but 1st Lt. Hill ended up in Jackson, TN, too.  So you've got:

SP: Pineda -- Robles -- Cortes -- Hensley -- Hill

RP: Fields -- Varvaro -- Paredes

INF: Ackley -- Triunfel -- Liddi (Poythress and Seager ended up in High Desert)

OF: Dunigan -- Peguero -- Wilson (30, 31, 27 HR respectively) -- Kuo Hui Lo

Outfielders aren't really prospects, but it's cool to have a AA team with essentially a full rotation and a full infield that could be in the bigs in short order.


High Desert has:

Pitching: Feierabend (rehabbing, they say) -- Kenn Kasparek (best SP at the low-A level last year) -- Maikel Cleto (another from the JJP Mets haul; missed most of last year, but had 24 K in 25.1 IP when he pitched)

Hitting: Poytrhess -- Seager -- Johermyn Chavez ("other" player from the League-Morrow deal)


Clinton gets some of the highly touted youngsters:

C: Steve Baron

IF: both Nick Franklin and Gabriel Noriega -- Mario Martinez

OF: James Jones (one to watch) -- and the return of Dennis Raben (listed as RF)


I would expect that would put "the Mystery Prospect" Julio Morban at Everett since he's not on the Clinton roster.


Grumpy's picture


Wonder why no one is talking about him helping this year.  Might be a nice add for a playoff run.

Is the concern based on slowly increasing IP?


RockiesJef's picture


People quiet because no one wants to j--x a potential stud that was actually raised on the hometown farm?  I think you have something on the slowly increasing IP?  When there has been some innings logged, he will be the talk of the blogs.

I would be interested if part of the arm problems last year was from this kids growth and having the pitching motion continually adapt to size.  It sounds like he still has good rotation of his body (rotation of hips and shoulders with the arm following) putting less pressure on his arm.  Being jumbo size he probably doesn't have to "coil" first (like the smaller Lincecum) before he has the fast rotation.  Size and strength, at that point, don't need to build as much leverage.  Lots of variations.  Kind of like a Lee Trevino had some very pecuilar movements but was incredibly consistent and when it counted, had perfect fundamentals.  Let's MP can have a live arm for years to come!




As you probably remember Jeff, that was precisely the syndrome they assigned to Morrow's shoulder problems in college -- huge gains in strength that taxed the "weak links" in his body.



RockiesJeff's picture


Jeff, the trouble with living out of town when I wasn't reading the blogs....more ignorant on much of that with Morrow, etc.  I had read in the Seattle papers when he was drafted how his velocity shot up from about 90 to high 90's in one year from growth, etc.  I always wonder during those growth spurts how many times a kid is throwing a curve, slider or just to the radar audience.  Today so many kids all lift which can add stress to those muscles.  Those don't automatically spell injury but I think during growth have to clearly increase the odds. 

I have been looking for video on Pineda as I am curious but have not found as work demanded something of me today!  I grew up on the Jolly Green Giant. I would like to watch one pitch now!  From what little I have seen of him, it is amazing with the growth, added speed on pitches, etc, he has been able to keep his control.  What Morrow never had.


Pineda's already anointed to SP in 2011, it would seem, and ya there's no use "jinxing" the guy by hard-selling him and then having a big disappointment if he's injured.

They want to take a year and manage his health, apparently.

The usual measured, rational Seattle Mariners logic recently.


Taro's picture


Looking at the picture on the other thread, Pineda has zero, literally ZERO hip-shoulder seperation. I still haven't seen vid, but I don't like that for a hard thrower since hes pretty arming the ball.

How's his timing? Is his arm close to 90 degrees vertical at footplant?



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DaddyOBy my quick count, the M's have now been shut out 13 times in 107 games. How can you just HAND your opponents 13 wins. That's on pace fore 20 over the course of the season. How season after season can deploy shut putrid offensive teams and consider yourself a franchise that competes in a serious manner?1 hour 22 min ago
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bsrL. O. L. rick2 hours 55 min ago
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IcebreakerXThat said, the M's have players like Franklin, who's immensely talented, that aren't being moved to other positions or anything at all. Personally, I'd start trying Franklin in LF because THAT reinforces the fact that you value him AND raises his trade profile more than leaving him at SS. The M's actions make it seem more like salesman Jack than GM Jack.4 hours 29 min ago
Bat571This is a lousy time for Cano to go into a slump.4 hours 31 min ago
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Bat571ROOTSports tagline: Mariners - true to the LOU ! Not exactly.6 hours 23 min ago
rick82Everyone will be batting left handed on both teams except for the catchers.7 hours 7 min ago