If someone told you the wild card New York Yankees player, the one who can get them over the hump, is one that has not yet played an inning this year, you might say that is crazy. But there is such a player and his return could put the Yankees over the top in their playoff drive.
That player is Michael Pineda. So what can Pineda do that is so extraordinary? Why would his return be such a boost? Let’s take a look.
Remember early in the season when Vidal Nuno was so successful? Part of that was because American League batters had not seen him. Pineda offers that same element. Assuming that he is really ready, most opposing hitters will be getting their first look at him in a long time. Usually, hitters don’t start catching up to new pitchers until they make their second time around the league.
But there is just not enough season left, in most cases, for them to get that second look. Sure, scouting reports and film study can help. But there is nothing like really facing a guy. That’s the best way to gauge his motion and pitch movement.
And Brian Cashman recently said that Pineda could return.
“I think if everything is as we hope it to be, then he will have a chance to do that,” Brian Cashman said. “Whether we do that or not, I don’t know. Our expectation is that he would be in a position to do that if we needed him.”
Having Pineda in the rotation might not effect Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova as much. But it would provide an extra day of rest for Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. Pettitte showed in his last start that he still has it, but at his age he certainly would benefit from the extra day.
The extra day would also help Sabathia. He has always been a horse. But remember how he responded after going on the disabled list last year?
Of course, David Phelps could have offered this same benefit. But American League hitters have seen him plenty of times. That is why Pineda can be the difference-maker.