The New York Yankees knew what they were getting when they traded for Michael Pineda back in early 2012. They got a hard throwing righty that they expected to be the ace of their staff in the not so distant future. Pineda, currently the number two starter behind Masahiro Tanaka, would miss his first two seasons in pinstripes due to a torn muscle in his pitching shoulder. He would then begin the 2014 season in the rotation, but soon go on the DL again for a strain that required an extended period of time to heal. Finally, in 2015, Pineda has been healthy all season for the Yankees, and flourished early, but recently has been in a skid that has been hurting the Yankees.
Pineda won his first five decisions this season, with an ERA that got as low as 2.72. But Big Mike has been struggling ever since his seven inning, 16-strikeout performance on Mothers Day against the Baltimore Orioles. Since May 10th, Pineda has gone 3-4 with a 6.10 ERA, and has allowed 16 earned runs in 20 June innings, producing a 7.08 ERA in the month. While Pineda is still a respectable 8-4, his ERA has risen to 4.25, thanks in large part to a rough outing against the Phillies on June 22nd.
Pineda’s last start was his worst of the season. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings, a season low, and allowed season highs in hits (11) earned runs (8) and for the first time all season, did not record a strikeout. He surrendered more hits to the Phillies than recorded outs. Not to mention, this was against the worst team and offense in Major League Baseball. This start was coming off a pretty dominant start against the Marlins where he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing only a solo home run while striking out nine.
That start against the Marlins provided hope that perhaps Pineda had sorted through the issues that plagued him, and that now he was back on the right track. But after Monday’s performance, Yankee fans are still unsure if this guy is still worth it. This is the future of the pitching staff, and he can’t even throw a decent game against the worst team in baseball. In 84 innings this year, Pineda has surrendered 96 hits. Yes, the 87 strikeouts look good, but Pineda continues to allow hits at an alarming clip, especially for a power pitcher.
Pineda’s inconsistency has cost the Yankees first place to the Tampa Bay Rays, and they currently sit a game back. While the rest of the Yankees’ staff has picked it up a bit, they still need their 6’7’’ right-hander to lock down teams and get back on the winning track. Pineda’s next start is scheduled to be against one of the hottest, and most surprising team this year, the Houston Astros. Pineda certainly has a tough task ahead of him, and hopefully he can regain his early season form. If the Yankees are to return to the postseason, Pineda will be needed to contribute in a big way to an otherwise rag-tag rotation.