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Say it ain't slow, Joe

Who am I, I guess, to judge Joel Pineiro if he wants to continue to be a Zero True Outcomes pitcher? He finally got that strikeout—swinging, even!—but until then Pineiro had lived by the Platonically perfect Dave Duncan mantra, pitching to all manners of contact and throwing 84-89 mile an hour sinker after 84-89 mile an hour sinker. (Gameday says Pineiro threw two 90 mph fastballs—one to Jordan Schafer in the second, and another right before Francoeur picked up the sacrifice fly.) 

I'll say this for Jo-el—he's made himself in Dave Duncan's image like few pitchers before him, because he doesn't really have any other options. Marquis was a thrower at heart; Woody actually struck the occasional batter out. Pineiro is a blank slate on which hitters can project their every whim, although in his defense he did pick up 13 groundouts to just 5 flyouts. (Pineiro can't be happy with that 1:18 pickoff/pitching-out ratio, though.) 

After this most recent performance, Pineiro is officially below the Cornejo Line.

Allow me to explain: In 2003, Nate Cornejo spent an entire season in the worst-Tigers-ever rotation and managed to strike out an astonishing 46 batters in nearly 200 innings, for a K/9 of 2.13. His month of May might have been the zenith of all pitching to contact since they began to count foul balls as strikes—in one of the free-swingingest seasons of all time, in the league with the designated hitter, on the neo-Cleveland Spiders, Cornejo struck out five hitters in forty innings, for a K/9 of 1.13.

Despite walking ten and allowing five home runs, Cornejo won two games and threw up an ERA of 2.72. For the 2003 Tigers!

At 2.05 strikeouts a game Pineiro isn't quite at the Cornejo Apex, but through the month of May he's officially below the line, and to make matters even Duncier he's avoided the walk and the home run as well. This is an impossible pace to keep up, provided Joel Pineiro isn't Tommy John, the patron saint of striking out fewer than three batters a game, but look at it pragmatically: the Cardinals have now gotten one more month of solid pitching out of Joel Pineiro. How it happened doesn't matter, so long as he—well, starts to strike out another two batters a game in the near future. Three would be even better, while he's at it.