Yankees: When It Comes To Pineda, Patience Is Not A Virtue

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees number three starter, almost predictably, self-combusted last night in a game that felt like it was over in the second inning leading to a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, like the rest of us watching the game, could be seen in the dugout last night doing a slow burn as he watched the body language of his number three starter, Michael Pineda, disintegrate and self-combust in the second inning of a game that Pineda never gave his team a chance to win.

Girardi has his body language going and you could tell that he was, shall we say, “uncomfortable” as he watched Pineda give up a lead-off home run to Yankees castoff, Corey Dickerson, in the first inning.

And when Girardi brings his left hand up resting two fingers on his chin and has this blank stare going on as he gazes out at one of his players, usually a pitcher and lately almost always Pineda, you know that this man is not a happy camper.

Sanchez Gets Dissed By Pineda

But the most telling and disturbing episode during Pineda’s 3.2 innings, eight hit, four runs effort last night occurred in the second inning when he gave up a two-out single to Derek Norris that scored two, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead.

More from Yanks Go Yard

Following that base hit, Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez, perhaps at the behest of Girardi, walks out towards the mound to give the traditional “Settle down, we’re still in this game” rah-rah speech to his flailing pitcher.

Pineda, though, instead of meeting Sanchez halfway, turns his back on Sanchez and walks a few paces away from him towards center field. Appearing startled, Sanchez pauses and then turns back to his position, whereupon Pineda proceeds to give up another base hit to Dickerson allowing Norris to score the final run of the game as the Yankee bats never got going again.

This little vignette tells me everything I need to know about Michael Pineda, and it should tell the Yankees the same thing.

Except that there’s more. Because as you’ll recall, this is the same pitcher (and that word is used loosely) who thought it would be a good idea to enter a game with an illegal substance (pine tar) on his person.

Now mind you, the pine tar wasn’t in his glove, and it wasn’t under his sleeve or on the bill of his cap a la Gaylord Perry and his vaseline. No, Pineda’s idea was to place it in full bloom on his neck where it was visible even from the YES TV booth.

Major league baseball didn’t excuse Pineda for this incident, stepping in with a suspension, but the Yankees did. And now, they are paying for it.

And it’s not the case of Masahiro Tanaka where you can logically say, “Hey, he had a bad day. He’ll be back.” Pineda consistently has a lot of these bad days. You can rationalize and point to the fact that he struck out six of the eighteen batters he faced last night if you want.

But that only raises the question of why one of those strikeouts didn’t come when he needed one to retire Derek Norris. And why he laid a big fat one in there to Dickerson to begin the game.

Video Courtesy of the YES Network

Do The Yankees Have A Woodshed?

Someone on the team needs to take Pineda out to the woodshed with a stern reminder that he is pitching in the baseball capital of the world for the New York Yankees. Moreover, the message needs to get across that he is living on borrowed time pitching for a team that has a better than modest chance to make the playoffs this year.

The person best equipped to handle that unenviable task is CC Sabathia, but maybe one of the higher ups who is closer to signing Pineda’s paychecks might have more of an effect. All I know is that this little dance that’s been going on ever since Pineda arrived here from the Mariners needs to end. And end sooner rather than later.

Normally, a player who is in the final season before he becomes a free agent as Pineda will be is self-motivated and doesn’t need a kick in the butt. But then again, Pineda can hardly be classified as “normal.”

The Yankees are taking a big gamble too if they intend to wait until July before trading Pineda as a rental for a team in the playoff hunt. Because if this continues to play out as expected, Pineda’s trade value by then will have disappeared.

No, in this case, patience is not a virtue, and the Yankees need to ship him out now when there is bound to be a team or two that still believes in miracles, and the potential Pineda has yet to deliver on.

Turning The Page……….

The Yankees have another scheduled off-day today and will on to Baltimore to face the Orioles in a 7:05 P.M. EST contest on Friday.

Luis Severino gets his first start of the season against Ubaldo Jimenez as the team makes its first attempt of the season to climb back to the .500 mark.

Hopefully, the Yankees bats will wake up and power up in hitter’s friendly Camden Yards. Ironically, most of the team’s offense has come from two unlikely, though welcome, sources in Jacoby Ellsbury 3-4 last night and .455 overall) and Chase Headley (2-3 and a whopping .636 overall).

Sanchez and Greg Bird continue to struggle with Bird building up an uncharacteristic number of strikeouts, including two last night.