The Return of Joel Pineiro

By R.J. Anderson //

Few players in recent memory have witnessed the ups and downs of Joel Pineiro. Forever labeled as a guy with better stuff than results during his Seattle days, Pineiro eventually signed with the Red Sox as a free agent. Months later, the Red Sox dumped him to the Cardinals and the rest has been history. Under Dave Duncan’s tutelage, Pineiro saw a dramatic increase in his groundball rate—from around 45-to-50 percent to over 60 percent in 2009. The Angels, fretting not of a one-year wonder, signed Pineiro to a two-year deal and the short righty has provided them with good service when healthy.

After missing some time in 2010 with an oblique injury, Pineiro started the 2011 season n the mend too with shoulder tightness. Over the weekend, Pineiro returned—much to the relief of the Angels, who had Matt Palmer in the rotation in his place—and looked a lot like his typical self. Facing a Rays lineup that is generally tough on righties, Pineiro went seven, allowing one run (on a Matt Joyce home run), walking one (intentionally), and fanning three. The Rays put 19 balls into play and 10 of them were of the groundball variety.

Of course, Pineiro isn’t going to provide seven innings of one-run ball every time out, but over the last three seasons he has an aggregate earned run average of 4.07, a WHIP of 1.26, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.9. Add in Pineiro’s average workload (172 innings) and that he tends to win double-digit games, and plucking him as an emergency starter at this point in the season seems like a decent get—particularly in deeper leagues or those of the AL-only variety.

The one caveat about Pineiro is his health. Shoulder tightness is nothing to play around with, but there within itself lies the beauty of grabbing Pineiro: the transaction cost is low enough to cut bait without worry.

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