Yankees: How Many Starts Would You Give To Michael Pineda
There probably isn’t a pitcher on the Yankees staff who is more perplexing than Michael Pineda.
Currently, he is penciled in to start every fifth day. But the team will be him watching him closely to see if he can gain the consistency that’s been lacking. How many starts he gets to prove himself is an open question that the Yankees must answer during the upcoming season if they hope to challenge the Red Sox for the Division title.
In a sense, Michael Pineda doesn’t owe the Yankees anything except maybe an apology for that embarrassing pine tar incident a couple of years ago. He was brought here in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in a deal that was nearly straight up for Jesus Montero, who at the time was a promising catcher for the Yankees.
Montero proceeded to balloon up to the size of a whale and amounted to nothing, as did the two other pitchers the threw in the deal. Pineda, on the other hand, has been a mainstay of the Yankees starting rotation. Minus the 2014 season when he missed a lot of time due to injury. The team has waited patiently for him to develop some level of consistency in his starts, but so far he has been unable to do so.
Consider for example this one stretch towards the end of last season:
September 14: Manages just four innings against the Dodgers
September 20: Strikes out 11 in a no decision
September 25: Whiffs seven in a solid 5 2/3 inning effort
September 30 Gives up five runs in a loss
How maddening can it get? You would have to think not much more. So the question begs itself as to how many starts the Yankees can afford to give Pineda before they throw up their hands and give up. Five, ten, fifteen – with no improvement? Because unlike the young staff members who are vying for jobs and the ones that are coming behind them, the Yankees know what Pineda can do. It’s just a matter of him doing it.
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The Yankees have some time to play with, but not much time. For Pineda, the season will begin in spring training, and he will remain under the watchful eyes of the coaching staff. Any hiccups and he is likely to be sent on his way. Rumor has it that several teams approached Brian Cashman when he was thought to be on the trading block during the offseason, but Cashman didn’t bite believing (or hoping) like the rest of us that Pineda would finally hit his stride in 2017.
The trouble, of course, is that if the Yankees wait too long, his stock will go down and the return on him will decline exponentially. But then again, reverting to what we said before, except for salary the trade that brought him here is a wash so why worry.
Assuming that he has kept up a regimen of offseason training, and that might be an assumption onto itself, Pineda, as a veteran pitcher should be able to walk into camp ready to be tested from the get-go. Because surely the Yankees will be looking at him in that light. And depending on how things develop if there are any bumps along the way the team could very well trade him before the season even starts, in spite of the innings that he can provide.
Clearly, the ball is in Pineda’s court for one final time.