Pineda in command from outset, firing first-pitch strikes

Yankees righty allows just one Mets run, whiffs seven over 7 2/3 innings

Pineda in command from outset, firing first-pitch strikes

NEW YORK -- Despite the cold and windy conditions at Yankee Stadium on Friday night, right-hander Michael Pineda showed impeccable command of the strike zone, throwing a career-high 78 of his 100 pitches for strikes while stifling the red-hot Mets in the Yankees' 6-1 victory.

It seemed as if he was ahead of Mets hitters all night, retiring 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, allowing just five hits in 7 2/3 innings.

That's what I'm looking for," Pineda said. "On top of the hitter for first-pitch strikes ... and it's better for me, because I can make adjustments and make a good pitch and get an out."

Pineda has 27 strikeouts with just two walks through his first four starts, adding seven punchouts without allowing any free passes Friday.

Tracking Pineda's strikeouts

"He's very smart out there," catcher Brian McCann said. "He reads hitters well. He knows what he wants to do and can make adjustments on the fly, that's why he's as good as he is."

Pineda is reaping the benefits of an improved changeup, a pitch McCann compared to a splitter because of its downward movement. Pineda used his changeup just 9.3 percent of the time last season, but threw it 21 times against the Mets. That extra element to his repertoire has made him even more dangerous.

"Last year, the few starts that I saw from him, he's capable of doing special things on the mound," Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "He has the stuff and every pitch that he makes has movement. Every time you face a pitcher that has movement on the ball, it's very difficult for opposing teams to put the barrel on the ball. He's been doing that since Spring Training. We just hope that he stays healthy and continues to pitch like that."

Girardi on Pineda's start

Pineda was effective for the Yankees before injuries robbed him of most of his 2014 season. He had seemed more hittable to start this season, as opponents were batting .306 against him through his first three starts.

On Friday, he began to look like a front-of-the-rotation starter again and someone the Yankees have huge expectations for if he can stay healthy.

"We've seen so much from Michael since he went through his injury and how many strikes he throws, the development of his changeup," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "His mechanics have become very sound. He holds runners. He just does a lot of things right."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.