In a game against Pittsburgh on April 7 at PNC Park, Pignatiello was brought in during the sixth inning and would face two batters. He walked both on eight pitches and was none too surprised to be optioned to the minor leagues two days later.
"You can't do that up there," said Pignatiello. "I don't know what it was. I had gone five days without pitching. Maybe it was nerves a little bit. The biggest thing was I just wanted to do well. I knew that was a huge opportunity and if I go in there and get those two guys out, it's going to get me more opportunities. I didn't get the job done."
The 25-year-old Pignatiello has since made five appearances with Iowa, allowing one hit (a solo home run) in four innings. He has walked two of 14 batters faced and has thrown 32 strikes out of 52 pitches.
He is not an overpowering pitcher, but has bolstered good command throughout his minor league career and has been effective against left-handed batters.
"I think the big thing with that outing in Pittsburgh is if I were to have given up two hits, I don't think it would have made any difference," Pignatiello said. "But when you throw eight balls ... you can't do that once you come out of the bullpen."
Pignatiello's days with the Cubs date back longer than many players, as he was drafted at age 17 in 2000 out of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill.
Iowa manager Pat Listach has seen Pignatiello for parts of the past three seasons and knows a thing or two about the southpaw – particularly his breaking pitch.
"He's shown us his curveball his whole career," Listach said. "Now he's working on a slider to make himself a little better."
Pignatiello said he was inspired to develop the slider in part because many of the Cubs' other left-handers have the pitch in their repertoire's.
"I just started messing with it," said Pignatiello. "I think it's a better quality pitch against left-handers. It looks more like a fastball. It's something I'm going to try out and see what I can do with. I'm still throwing my curveball. Some of the other lefties we have, they throw sliders. I just think it's a quality pitch against left-handers."
Pignatiello put together a solid spring training, appearing in 11 games and allowing one run in 10-plus innings. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter.
He was asked if the Cubs rushed to judgment by sending him down so quickly.
"I was consistent in spring training," he said. "I feel I'm the kind of pitcher that gets better the more that I pitch. I understand that I'm a rookie and I have to kind of earn that keep, but ... obviously anybody would have wanted more opportunities."
And if Pignatiello has his say, his forgettable performance against the Pirates won't be his last opportunity with the big league team.
"Hopefully when I go back, I'm just throwing strikes," he said.