Michael Pineda has been one of the bright stories for the New York Yankees this season. Through the first three games, he was mowing people down with his 90+ mph fastball and his nasty slider. Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka were the bright sides of the Yankees’ April to this point. However, Pineda’s performances now have to come with a little hint of doubt and skepticism.
After being caught using pine tar for a second time on Wednesday night against the Red Sox, we have to now wonder how much the grip played a part in his performances? It is an unfair reason because of the noted knowledge of pine tar being used discretely. However, this is a guy who knows people are looking to see if he is cheating, yet still does it.
To me, it is puzzling that Pineda would think of going to the pine tar in the second inning after a 30-pitch first inning that saw his stuff look probably the worst it had all year. It was just too blatant for Red Sox’ manager John Farrell not to address it to the home plate umpire.
From the looks of it, it seemed to have been a move solely done by Pineda, which can come across as selfish on his part. Not only will he cost his team in the short-term by possibly being suspended, but he made the team have to empty the bullpen in the second inning. Keep in mind; this is a bullpen that was already taxed over the weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Could this hurt Pineda’s development? He has missed two years due to shoulder surgery; a surgery that Yankees’ broadcaster Michael Kay referenced on the telecast that is worse than Tommy John surgery. He has only thrown 90+ pitches once in his three starts. Now, the Yankees will have to wait and see on a suspension. This could determine how long it takes Pineda to get to a point where he can throw 100+ pitches in a game.
Pine tar seems to be acceptable in Major League Baseball, but the hitters don’t want to see it. Now, the Yankees have an issue on their hands where teams all season long will be tracking Pineda to see if he’s cheating again. Who can blame them? It is one mistake and Pineda should be able to learn from it, but it’s a caveat to cheating that he is going to have to deal with all season long.