Pitcher Michael Pineda proved to the New York Yankees why he was worth the wait after a strong outing in his debut for the team Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays. The big righty went six innings with five strikeouts, five hits, one earned run and no walks in Game 2 of the series.
Unfortunately for Pineda, his stellar performance went unrewarded as the Yankees haunted him similarly to his 2011 Seattle Mariners team by giving him no run support as the team fell 4-0 to the Blue Jays. Despite the loss, Pineda showed his high potential and why he will win the 2014 AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Pineda showed everything he was capable of in his first outing. The 25-year-old had a shaky first two innings in which he gave up four of his five total hits. Pineda was able to escape danger in the second after a lead-off double to Adam Lind turned into a run after a sac-bunt moved the runner, and an eventual RBI single from Josh Thole knocked him in. With a little help from his catcher, Francisco Cervelli, Thole was caught stealing to make the second out, but then Pineda gave up another double. Unwavering, Pineda then got Jonathan Diaz to strikeout to end the inning.
From then on, there was complete dominance from the former Rookie of The Year. Pineda mowed down the Toronto batters by retiring eight straight before Diaz doubled in the fifth, only to be followed by a fly out from Melky Cabrera. Pineda would finish his day with a one-two-three sixth inning and leave the game with the one earned run.
Coupled with the performances from Ivan Nova and Masahiro Tanaka, Pineda gave the Yankees more optimism about the back end of the rotation. The young Dominican proved he is ready to be the team’s new workhorse after missing two straight seasons with injury. C.C. Sabathia was roughed up in his first outing and will undoubtedly be pulled earlier than games in the past with all of the innings he has logged over his career. The team will be cautious with Pineda, but after a solid 2013 stint in the minors and a full Spring Training under his belt, his first strong start only increased his trust with the coaching staff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a high innings total from Pineda when the year is through.
Pineda is primed for a big year and I can see him grabbing 12-to-14 wins with an ERA under 3.50. The Yankees have probably the best four-five tandem of all MLB pitching staffs with Tanaka and Pineda. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both pull in awards when the season ends with the Rookie of the Year in Tanaka and Comeback Player of the Year for Pineda.