Sunday, February 15, 2015


Boy that was a long wait.  Such was the case in 2014 for New York Yankees still-young righthanded starting pitcher Michael Pineda who missed both the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons due to shoulder trouble lowlighted by surgery to repair a torn labrum.  The key piece the Yanks got in their trade with the Seattle Mariners for Jesus Montero, Pineda was nothing but a rumor to most Yankees fans after his All-Star debut out west in 2011.  Pineda was universally considered the top pitching prospect in baseball prior to that campaign, blessed with a 98-mph fastball and impressive secondary stuff.  The Mariners gave Pineda a rotation spot to open 2011 and watched him earn that All-Star selection with a dominant first half to the tune of a 3.03 ERA and 1.04 WHIP while striking out 113 in 113 innings.  Fatigue became a big problem from that point on however as Pineda entered into uncharted innings territory.  The result was a 5.12 second half ERA and likely the start of Pineda's journey into major shoulder trouble.  As noted, Pineda didn't throw a single major league pitch both in 2012 and 2013 and when 2014 spring training came around, the Yanks didn't view him as anything more than a possible fifth starter.  Despite some more injuries issues that forced Pineda into only making 13 starts, when he was on the mound there was nothing but dominance.  In those 13 outings, Pineda logged a terrific 1.89 ERA and tiny 0.83 WHIP while striking out 59 batters in 76.1 innings.  The stuff that made Pineda such a big sensation in the first place was back, albeit with a bit less heat that before.  Still the results were incredible as Pineda reaffirmed himself as a front-of-the-rotation guy as 2015 arrives.  So with that said let's take a look at what Pineda could offer his owners this season. 

As evidenced by the numbers, Pineda's stuff is still incredibly potent and tough to hit.  Pineda gave up only 56 hits in those 76.1 innings which is a testament to how good he was.  Even more impressive, Pineda showed so much better control last season than during his initial performance with the Mariners.  With Seattle in 2011, Pineda posted a 2.89 BB/9.  With the Yankees last season?  Try 0.83 which is phenomenal.  That shows you that Pineda continues to progress as a pitcher and is becoming more comfortable in controlling his pitches.  The better control helped Pineda overcome some slight velocity loss which showed up in a lowered K rate in 2014.  With Seattle in 2011 Pineda posted a great 9.11 K/9 IP.  Last season with the Yankees that mark dropped to a shaky 6.96.  Again the loss of velocity which can be blamed on the shoulder was likely the culprit there and it is something to keep an eye on as 2015 dawns.  It is entirely possible Pineda will find those ticks again this season as he is another year removed from his injury-marred past but it is no given either as shoulder issues tend to sap arm strength for good in many hurlers.  Still with the improvement in control, Pineda still can clock out as a rock solid SP 2.

Obviously the injury risk is very high here as Pineda can't be counted on to make it through the whole season unscathed.  Even if he does stay on the mound, there is a high likelihood that Pineda will struggle the second half of the season as he moves into uncharted innings territory again.  I say uncharted innings territory as it has been years since Pineda pitched more than even 100 innings which means he is a major sell candidate in July. 

When you put it all together, Michael Pineda is a guy well worth checking out in the middle rounds of your draft due to the very god ability he possesses.  His draft price is still cheap as the trust factor here is low given all the injuries he has suffered.  Just know that this is likely just a half season deal before things could get nasty. 

2015 PROJECTION:  12-7 2.93 ERA 1.09 WHIP 146 K


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