For the first and certainly not last time the New York Yankees lost yesterday to the Toronto Blue Jays. “Ace” Masahiro Tanaka pitched four mediocre innings and already has as many losses as he did by May of the 2014 season.
Michael Pineda though was dominant this spring. In 19 innings he struck out 23 opposing hitters and gave up a mere three earned runs, posting a 0.89 WHIP, and limiting batters to just a .229 average.
Pineda was on track to have a breakout season last year, but injuries as well as pine tar issues derailed his season. Pineda’s HR/FB total was the lowest of his career. His walk rate per nine innings was way down, his velocity was up.
He tried to regain his pre June dominance but never got on track during the second half of the MLB season.
Pineda has a history of injury issues, but with Tanaka on track for a season ending Tommy John surgery and C.C. Sabathia no longer the workhorse ace he once was, the door is open for Pineda to emerge as the Yankees best pitcher. Remember that it was only three years ago, he was the top young pitcher in the Seattle Mariners farm system and the major trade piece in the Jesus Montero deal.
If the Yankees want to sniff the playoffs, Pineda will need to eat up innings and be the dominant force the Yankees traded for seasons ago.