Michael Pineda emerged as one of the top young pitchers in baseball in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners, when he went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 28 starts (171 innings) while earning an All-Star selection and finishing fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He was then traded to the New York Yankees in January of 2012, but he has yet to pitch for the team due to shoulder issues that have sidelined him for most of the past two seasons.
Pineda pitched solidly (3.32 ERA, 9.1 K.9, 3.1 BB/9) in 10 minor league starts last year, and he recently proclaimed that he is 100 percent healthy with spring training around the corner. Should fantasy baseball owners have him back on their radar?
Pineda is expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation during the spring, along with David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno, but if he is indeed back to full health and is able to regain his velocity he has to be considered the front runner for the spot.
Pineda’s 2011 season is too far in the past to help fantasy owners draw any definitive conclusions about what he’ll do in 2014, particularly since he is coming off what can only be classified as a significant shoulder issue. But he did allow a lot of fly balls (44.8 percent), and pitching in a more hitter-friendly home park brings a bit of concern if he can’t maintain something close to his K/9 (9.1) and BB/9 rates (2.9) from that season.
Fantasy owners should keep an eye on reports surrounding Pineda this spring, and if he emerges healthy, is pitching well and wins a job in New York’s starting rotation I think he’ll be worth a late-round draft pick in deep mixed leagues.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.