Whether they are up in arms at the possibility or not, a lot of people have discussed Michael Pineda starting the season in AAA. The main reason seems to revolve around his velocity, or lack thereof. Personally I think the velocity "issue" is overblown, because it's not like he's throwing much lower than he averaged last season. Fangraphs says that Pineda's fastball averaged 94.2 MPH (he throws a cutter that averaged 96.7, and a two-seamer that averaged 95, but he only threw those 2.1% and 4.7% of the time), and so far this spring he's only hit 94 a handful of times while averaging around 91 or 92 (I don't know the breakdown between his general fastball, cutter, and two-seamer this spring).
That's not the only reason people have for thinking he needs a bit more work, as Michael's spring batting average against is .283, while it was .209 during the 2011 season. And Pineda's WHIP has been 1.47 so far this spring, while it was 1.10 last season. Then again, people shouldn't worry about a player's stats in Spring Training. I say as long as a player is getting work in, and does not get hurt, then it's all good.
Phil Hughes can be sent to AAA, but the team seems to be set on giving him another shot at the rotation... something I 100% agree with. So no sense getting into things with Phil.
So has Ivan Nova gotten a free pass here? I mean, it's not like he has the track record of either CC Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda... two guys that are already set for the rotation. To be more specific, should he be getting a free pass?
It's not like Nova has had a ton more starts in MLB than Pineda, as Ivan has started 34 games and Michael has started 28 (Nova started 7 games in 2010 and 27 in 2011, while all of Pineda's starts came last season). Their total innings pitched in MLB is 207.1 for Nova to 171 for Pineda, so it's not like there's a huge difference there either.
So I went ahead an put together this little chart to compare Pineda and Nova...
You can see that Pineda beats Nova at every category but ERA+. I know I said stats in Spring Training really don't matter, but Ivan does have a 6.86 ERA this spring, due in large part to having given up 5 home runs. So I can't help but wonder if Nova has things to work on, and should therefore be optioned to the minors instead. I mean, at least while Pineda is still working on his velocity and control he may get better results.