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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: MICHAEL PINEDA SP NEW YORK YANKEES

Time once again to check in on yet another 2014 fantasy baseball draft sleeper and today we revisit an old friend.  An old friend who many have simply forgotten and understandably so after he missed the last two years due to shoulder surgeries and complications.  Of course we are referring to former All Star SP Michael Pineda who enters 2014 camp fully healthy and ready to stake his claim to the team's fifth starter's spot.  Once considered the best pitching prospect in baseball while coming up in the Seattle Mariners system, Pineda made his debut in 2011 with terrific initial results as he was selected for the All Star team.  Showing off the explosive fastball and knee-buckling secondary stuff that made Pineda such a valued prospect, he finished the first half of 2011 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.04 WHIP while striking out 113 batters in 113 innings.  Stardom seemed to be Pineda's destiny and a future fantasy baseball ace was a given based on his initial performances.  However like in life in general, nothing is a sure thing as Pineda first crashed and burned in the second half of 2011 as fatigue likely set in during his most extended professional season to that point.  Pineda pitched to an ugly 5.12 ERA in the second half and soon found himself traded in the offseason in a shocking deal for Yankees prized catching prospect Jesus Montero.  Unfortunately for both sides, the move backfired altogether as Montero failed to hit during his first two years in Seattle, was sent back down to the minors, and than got slapped with a 50-game ban for getting caught up in the Biogenesis probe.  Pineda meanwhile showed up to 2012 camp overweight and soon complained of shoulder soreness that eventually led to season-ending surgery.  Pineda would deal with further complications from the surgery and ultimately miss a large chunk of 2013 as well rehabbing from the procedure.  Finally Pineda made his way back and made a few minor league starts to finish out the season.

Fast forward to 2014 and Pineda already has been tabbed the favorite to win the fifth starter's job by manager Joe Girardi.  Pineda still possesses the big time fastball that made him such a significant prospect in the first place and he looked to be in great shape.  At his optimal self, Pineda racks up the strikeouts and limits the hits due to his explosive stuff.  Walks are an issue from time to time along with the gopher ball but Pineda presents some nice value due to the upside remaining in his game.  Also consider how cheap his draft price is and Pineda could be a late round gem.  If Pineda does win the fifth starter's job and you end up drafting him, just keep in mind that by the time July comes around, he is likely to be on fumes again after so much time away.  Sell high by than if Pineda is pitching well. 

2014 PROJECTION:  11-6 3.75 ERA 1.26 WHIP 155 K

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