Through three starts (19 1/3 innings) in 2011, Seattle Mariners’ rookie Michael Pineda has certainly turned some heads. The 21-year-old boasts a 2.33 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 16/7 K/BB ratio, which includes a start at Texas.

This begs the question: How good is Michael Pineda?

Baseball America ranked Pineda—who stands 6′7″ and weighs 260 pounds—behind Dustin Ackley as the Mariners’ No. 2 prospect this spring, and noted the following:

Pineda has the size, stuff and control to pitch at the top of a rotation. He throws a crisp fastball that sits at 93-97 mph and gets as high as 101 with explosive life and occasional heavy sink. He tightened and added more tilt to his quality slider this year, though he can still get under it occasionally, causing it to flatten out. He also did a better job of selling his upper-80s changeup with the same arm speed as his fastball, keeping it down and getting hitters to chase it. Pineda throws all three pitches from the same three-quarter arm slot.

Pineda had very little trouble in the minors, posting a 2.49 ERA in 404 IP over five seasons while totalling elite strikeout (8.8 K/9) and walk (2.1 BB/9) ratios.

Everyone, myself included, expected him to become a very good major league pitcher—just not this soon.

As I noted in this article—The Top 10 Rookies in 2011—Pineda is likely to experience many ups and downs this season.

Despite his ridiculous success thus far (72.9 percent contact rate, 39.1 percent o-swing rate), and his average fastball velocity of 96.1 mph, I still believe Pineda will send fantasy managers on a roller coaster ride this season.

Will he maintain his current 2.33 ERA? Of course not. Can he finish the season with a sub-4.00 ERA? Given his surroundings at Safeco Field, I’d say it’s likely.

Yet, somehow, Pineda is owned in just 56 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

He’s undoubtedly worth an add in any 12-team mixed league. You may have to monitor his matchups, but he certainly has a lot to offer. His next two starts (home vs. Oakland and at Detroit) work in his favor.


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