Michael Pineda will look to give the Yankees their first win of the season when they play the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday night. Pineda, who could very well be the best pitcher in the Yankees rotation, had a 1.89 ERA and 59 strikeouts with only seven walks in 13 starts last season. During spring training, he continued his dominance as he had a 1.42 ERA with 23 strikeouts and only one walk in 19 innings.
Pineda missed about 3.5 months last season because of a strain in his teres major muscle. Pineda hasn’t pitched a full season in the majors since 2011 when he was a rookie with the Seattle Mariners and finished fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, but he has the least amount of question marks of anyone in the rotation based on what he did after he returned from his injury last season. In nine starts after coming off of the disabled list he pitched six innings or more in seven of his starts, he walked one batter or less in eight of those starts and he allowed two runs or less in eight of those nine starts.
He is an imposing figure at 6’7″ and 265 pounds and his fastball appears faster than it actually is given his height. Pineda’s fastball in 2011 averaged 94.7 miles per hour, which was the highest among MLB rookies with at least 100 innings pitched. In 2014, Pineda relied primarily on his four-seam fastball (93mph) and slider (85mph), while also mixing in a change-up (88mph) and sinker (81mph). This dip in velocity last season proves that he can improve on last season since his fastball averaged 94.7 during his previous healthy season in 2011.
It seems realistic that based on his production last season and in spring training he could finish the 2015 season with 15 wins. a 3.05 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He is fully healthy right now and this would be a very good second full season for Pineda. It is not realistic that he could have the stats that he did in 2014 for a full season, but he proved that he can anchor the pitching staff while being much better than when he was a rookie with the Mariners.
The Yankees lost 6-1 in the first game of the season on Monday. Masahiro Tanaka, after admitting earlier that he would be throwing fewer four-seam fastballs leading to him not throwing as fast, pitched four innings and allowed five hits and four earned runs. He was perfect in the first two innings besides an infield single in the second, but in the third he allowed a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion as well as two other earned runs. He did strike out six Blue Jays, but it could be a few starts for Tanaka to adjust to his new pitching style.
The only run that the Yankees scored came off of a Brett Gardner home run in the sixth inning. The Yankees only had two other hits. Didi Gregorius got caught trying to steal third and Chase Headley didn’t come through when there was a runner in scoring position.
In Wednesday night’s game, Pineda will look to continue pitching the way he did during spring training and the offense will look to have much more success against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey than they did in Monday’s game against Drew Hutchison.