The New York Yankees need Michael Pineda to produce in 2014. It has been nearly two years since the Yankees traded away highly talented prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for rookie pitcher Pineda. While Montero has had troubles of his own in Seattle, he has at least taken the field at the big league level. The trade for Pineda was a shock to many, as Montero was the Yankees’ top prospect and was expected to fill the shoes of retiring Jorge Posada. Despite this, Yankees officials were confident in the then 22-year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic.
The 6-foot-7, 260 pound Pineda was an All-Star in 2011, the season before the Yankees signed him. During that season, the rookie sensation struck out 25 percent of the batters he faced on his way to a 9-10 record and 3.74 ERA. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman saw the potential the young pitcher had to offer. Pineda, at 22, was throwing in the mid-90s and had command to go with it. Cashman saw him as a budding star who had the opportunity to grow into an ace under the mentorship of C.C. Sabathia. Unfortunately, due to injuries, Pineda has yet to live up to those expectations.
Since joining the Yankees after the 2011 season, Pineda has done literally nothing at the big league level — not because he doesn’t have the ability to, but because he has not even taken the field for the Yankees due to injuries. Pineda suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season. He was then forced to start the 2013 season on the Disabled List, and then spent the rest of the season in the minors. Pineda’s absence from the field has hurt the Yankees over the passed two seasons. Not only has he not produced, but the team has struggled because of a weakness at catcher, a problem Montero surely would have solved.
A healthy Pineda turns the New York Yankees’ starting rotation into a potentially dangerous one. The recent re-signing of Hiroki Kuroda gives the Yankees two veteran arms at the front of the rotation in Kuroda and Sabathia. Ivan Nova is a No. 3 or No. 4 who has grown into a solid pitcher and earned the trust of manager Joe Girardi. With the Yankees showing increased interest in Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Pineda could serve as a youthful arm at the back end of a very interesting rotation. He simply needs to be healthy.