Michael Pineda had been slowly building a buzz as he worked his way up through the Seattle Mariners farm system and on Tuesday night, fans will finally get to see what all the fuss is about. Pineda, a hard-throwing 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic, earned the fifth spot in the Mariners' rotation despite his age and concerns about burning a year of service time. He may not be fully polished yet, but Pineda has the kind of stuff to be successful at the major league level, and is another reason for fans to be excited, both now and in the future.
For a quick look at Pineda and what to expect, we head over to USS Mariner, where Dave Cameron gathered his thoughts together a few weeks ago.
He throws a legitimate mid-90s fastball, and at 6′7, he's got enough arm extension where it probably gets on the hitter like a high-90s heater
Once you get past fastballs in the strike zone, there's not a whole lot else there right now. His slider has some promise, but he throws it in the low-to-mid-80s and it doesn't have a hard bite, so it's not a classic knockout breaking ball. It's also inconsistent, and he flattens out it at times, turning it into more of a cut-fastball.
The goal with Pineda doesn't come in the form of results right now, but instead is all about development. How Pineda develops his secondary pitches at the big-league level will determine how he progresses in the coming years and whether or not he succeeds right away. He has the fastball -- there's no question about that -- but a starter cannot rely solely on one pitch.
Pineda assumes the role of stopper on Tuesday night after the Mariners opened the season with back-to-back wins before dropping their next two -- a 7-1 loss to Oakland on Sunday and a 6-4 series opening loss to Texas on Monday. In a tough pitching environment against a lineup that possesses plenty of pop, Pineda has his work cut out for him as he makes his major league debut.
The Mariners and Rangers take the field at 5:05 p.m. on FSN. For more on the Mariners and Pineda's debut, check out SB Nation's Lookout Landing. For the other side of the game, check out SB Nation's Texas Rangers blog, Lonestar Ball.