It’s been a long two years for Michael Pineda. The former rising star in the Seattle Mariners’ organization, who once placed fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting, and who was traded to the New York Yankees for their top prospect at the time, catcher Jesus Montero, has been named the team’s fifth starter to open the 2014 season. It became clear early on in the spring, that Pineda meant business. He along with David Phelps went toe-to-toe throughout the entire spring, with Pineda edging out Phelps because of his sheer dominance.
In 15 spring frames, Pineda has posted a 2-1 record, a 1.20 ERA, 14 hits allowed, 16 Ks, 1 walk issued, a .246 BAA, and a 1.00 WHIP. This is the Michael Pineda the Yankees envisioned lining up right behind C.C. Sabathia in the rotation for a devastating 1-2 punch. Pineda came into camp in the best shape of his career, and stated he was ready to play ball. After one semi-controversial and injury-plagued debut season, and one lost season rehabbing, the Yankees can finally be declared the winner of the trade that had previously been called a bust for both sides. Montero out in Seattle, may have eaten his way out of baseball altogether.
Joe Girardi had previously announced the remainder of his starting rotation, spearheaded by Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka. The first runner-up to Pineda, Phelps, had an outstanding spring as well, going 1-0, with a 2.75 ERA, 14 Ks in 19 2/3 innings, with a .250 BAA and a 1.17 WHIP. One factor that may have put Pineda over the top aside from his complete spring dominance, was the fact that Phelps had previous experience out of the bullpen, whereas Pineda had none. Phelps will now join fellow rotation candidate Adam Warren in the Yankees’ bullpen. Pineda could make his 2014 Yankees regular season debut in Toronto against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre as early as April 5th.
Pineda will not be on an innings count this season. Adding him to the mix, makes the Yankees’ starting rotation 1-5 one of the most potentially successful in all of baseball. Question marks remain for each member of the staff, but if the chips fall the Yankees’ way, a deep postseason run could be in the cards in 2014.