Yankees News: Michael Pineda Comfortable on the Mound and in the Clubhouse


Michael Pineda is entering his fourth season with the New York Yankees, after being traded for former top prospect Jesus Montero following an impressive All-Star rookie season with the Seattle Mariners in 2011, at the age of 22.  For the first two years of that deal, it looked like the trade would be a wash as neither player produced.

After a dominant 61 at-bat stint with the Yankees in 2011, Montero had an average year in 2012, nothing spectacular, but not awful, yet has only logged 118 at-bats in the two years since, posting a slash line of .212/.260/.339.  He doesn’t figure to be a part of Seattle’s plans going forward.

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Pineda, on the other hand, did not play at all in 2012 or 2013.  Many Yankees fans were angered by trading Montero, the catcher of the future, for Pineda, and some even worried if Pineda would ever suit up for the Yankees.

In 2014, Pineda quickly turned that anger into hope for the future as he dominated, although the injury bug hit again, and he only managed to pitch 76 1/3 innings over 13 starts.  He had an ERA under 2 (1.89), a WHIP under 1 (0.825), while allowing 6.6 hits per nine, as well as only 0.6 home runs per nine, and 0.8 walks per nine, and striking out 7 batters per nine.  While Pineda probably won’t maintain that success over a full season, he can provide the Yankees with a second ace, assuming he stays healthy.

He has shown improvements on the mound, as his changeup and command have improved, as well as his consistency.  He also seems more mature, confident, and ready to step into a role of a leader.  While Pineda’s English isn’t great, he does make an effort to speak the language to reporters, and is still working to improve it, while also mentoring his younger Latin American teammates to learn the language.

In regards to his comfort levels Pineda told MLB.com’s Adam Berry:

"I always feel at home, but right now I feel more comfortable."

Bench coach Rob Thomson sees the confidence rising, as he stated:

"He enjoys playing the game.  He really does.  It’s nice to see, gives good energy.  He’s a very confident guy, high-energy guy.  You can see him taking the younger kids under his wing.  He’s grown up.  He’s a good guy to have around."

Manager Joe Girardi added:

"I see him relate extremely well to everyone in the clubhouse.  I see him have young kids around that he’s helping out.  He shares with these kids.  Because there’s a ton of talent in that room, and there’s a lot of young talent.  He can help them a lot.  He’s a big part of our rotation.  30, 32 starts from him would be outstanding."

Pineda feels that he is up for the task of making 30-32 starts, after only starting 13 games over the past three years:

"I like it.  I feel good because this is what I want.  This is what I wanted, everybody here believing in me."

Pineda has a long way to go before truly becoming a major league ace, but so far, this spring, he has looked the part.  Pineda has yet to show consistency and durability, but if he pitches to his potential, having him and Masahiro Tanaka atop the rotation could be frightening for other teams.

Teams should always want their top players to serve as leaders, and seeing Pineda develop into a leader is a promising sign.

Next: Alex Rodriguez should bat in the middle of the lineup

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