Unless you live under a rock stuck to the ground with pine tar, you have heard about Michael Pineda‘s tactless attempt to use a foreign substance against the Boston Red Sox. The action resulted in a 10-game suspension, but this is almost a best case scenario for the righty.
After not pitching at all in the Major Leagues for two seasons, there has been a fair amount of talk about how many innings Pineda will throw this season. About a month ago, I thought Pineda would throw from about 175 innings to 190 innings, with the team having to shut him down late in the season a la Stephen Strasburg with the Nationals from a few seasons ago. Somehow, all of Pineda’s prognosticators forgot to factor in an in-season suspension. With his newly minted suspension, Pineda “saves” two starts this season on his arm, or about 12 innings. Plus, the forced sabbatical gives the pitcher a respite for his arm after playing his most consecutive days of baseball since 2011.
Therefore, when Pineda returns in early May, he should be rested and ready for the hotter weather. His arm should be saved, and he could pitch until the end of the regular season if the team holds him to a lenient innings count. (Theory): Maybe Pineda had this in mind on all season, and was willing to risk his reputation for a few better starts. In fact, if he had been more discreet about his usage, instead of lathering the substance on his neck on national television, he might have been able to get away with it. I’m sure other players besides Pineda are experimenting with other liquids in games.
Most likely, Pineda will still pitch about 175 innings, but his reputation will be tarnished for a long time, especially in Boston. Maybe if he went completely ballistic like George Brett people wouldn’t care as much, but as the adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” The Red Sox would not be shamed.