On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Yankees took on the Boston Red Sox in a relatively meaningless Spring Training game but one that could be a determining factor in the race for the Bronx Brombers’ fifth starter role. And if this one game was any indicator, it is clear that Michael Pineda should beat out the Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno and David Phelps to win that role.
Pineda started the game for the Yankees,and was absolutely dominant, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing four hits, walking none, striking out five and allowing no runs. The game was the most extensive yet this March for the burly right-hander, as he threw 60 pitches on the day and showed why the Yankees expect him to be a star moving forward.
Pineda sat in the low-90s with his fastball, flashed a change-up that is at least an average pitch at the MLB level and displayed a slider that is surely one of the best in the world. This arsenal was only made better by the fact that the 6-foot-5, 260-pound right-hander had nearly impeccable control, not only avoiding walking batters but also hitting spots both low and high within the strike zone.
With this appearance now in the rear-view mirror, Pineda has now thrown nine innings, struck out 14 batters, allowed eight hits, walked one and allowed no runs. While there is only so much one can truly read into Spring Training results, these are obviously incredibly impressive totals, which are only made better by the fact that his control and velocity are approaching pre-Tommy John Surgery levels. Based on the way he looks right now, it would be no surprise to see Pineda post an ERA close to 3.30, strike out 200 batters and return to previous All-Star levels of performance this season, a level none of his competitors for the fifth spot could even imagine reaching.
There is no doubting that Joe Girardi and the Yankees coaching staff want Pineda to be the No. 5 starter, and they can now rest comfortably knowing that he has earned the role. At 25 years of age there is no doubting that his velocity, location and pitching acumen will only continue to get better, and it appears certain that Pineda is ready to fulfill the potential that was expected when the Yankees acquired him in the winter of 2011.