Yankees’ Editorial: The Bronx is Boiling: Pineda Time!


The New York Yankees continue to impress in 2015. They are a team playing far above expectations, but it is because, for the time being they are healthy. Mark Teixeira is looking like 2009 Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez is looking like a Major League slugger again.

There is a changing of the guard, however. Friday night was arguably the biggest game of the Yankees young season. The New York Mets rolled into town on an 11-game winning streak and the best team in baseball. The man that got the call to shut them down, did just that and may have established himself as the new Yankees’ ace. The Bronx is boiling and I need to blow some steam.


We all know the story. Michael Pineda, a 22-year old righty in 2011, comes out and has an impressive rookie season in Seattle. He went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA, posting a 1.10 WHIP and a 9.1 strikeout per nine rate. He finishes 5th in the Rookie of the Year and the Mariners look like they have the second punch behind Felix Hernandez. Months later he is traded to the Yankees for top prospect Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi

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Montero has gone on to be a bust for the Seattle Mariners. Not only is he back in Triple-A still trying to learn first base, the Mariners recently signed Carlos Quentin and moved him to first base to steal some playing time.

Pineda? 2012 and 2013 were a wash. He didn’t even step on a baseball field and skeptics viewed it as one of the worst trades of the millennium. But then last year, amid an infamous pine tar suspension and a DL stint from getting hurt while he was suspended, Pineda flashed the brilliance that proved why the Yankees felt giving up their top prospect years ago was justified. And Friday night, Pineda may have become the new Yankees’ ace.

Ask yourself a question? What makes an ace? It is simply statistics? If that were the case wouldn’t the Nationals have four aces? Doug Fister is coming off of a sick 2014 finishing 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA, but no one hardly considers Fister an ace, nor thinks he could be one on another team.

An ace surely has to have the numbers, don’t get me wrong, but they also have to have the intangibles. Aces seem to find a way to win on the days they have their worst stuff, and bring their absolute best stuff in the biggest games. Friday night showed Pineda did just that.

Pineda’s first win of the season wasn’t pretty. He allowed 5 runs to Baltimore, but because he didn’t issue a walk and struck out nine batters, he was able to keep the Yankees in the game for a 6-5 win. His following game, he got banged around by the Tampa Bay Rays, but again, by not issuing walks or making mental mistakes, he limited the damage and earned the 5-3 win.

Enter Yankees Stadium Friday night. The scorching hot New York Mets roll into town on an 11-game winning streak and the best team in baseball. There is a lot of talk of how the Mets are the new Kings of New York and the Yankees didn’t stand a chance against their red hot arsenal of young pitching. Game one featured the best pitching matchup of the series as it pitted Jacob deGrom against Michael Pineda. Pineda would pitch his best game of the year.

His opponent in deGrom is no slouch, as he is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year. He was coming off consecutive shutout appearances for wins and had allowed just two runs over his first 19.1 innings in 2015. The Yankees, specifically Mark Teixeira, jumped out on deGrom and gave Pineda a 6-run lead. Pineda would never let the Mets back in it.

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Pineda was in the zone. Literally. He threw 100 pitches and 78 were strikes. Nearly every batter he faced was behind in the count 0-1 by the time he threw his second pitch. It was a dominating performance, one in which he struck out 7 and walked none. It is the second game this season that Pineda has surpassed the sixth inning and not walked anyone. On the season, over his 4 starts and 25.2 innings, he has struck out 27 and walked TWO. Now, that’s ace-like.

CC Sabathia is clearly in trouble, and Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren won’t be much more than backend rotation guys. That gives the Yankees two 26-year olds in Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka that could form the most lethal 1-2 punch the Yankees have had since Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens back in 2001.

Tanaka is clearly going to be the number one guy for the Yankees based on his wallet. Pineda needs to stay healthy and smart this season (no more pine tar!) and the Yankees could prove to have turned the biggest bust of a trade into the biggest steal of the century.