Pineda and Nova Impressive as Opening Day Nears
It was a good week for young pitchers.
On Tuesday Michael Pineda, possibly one of the Yankees’ biggest question marks going into the 2014 season, continued his bid for the fifth spot in the rotation by blanking the Red Sox in the 8-1 victory. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up only four hits and no walks.
Though Joe Girardi has not made any final decisions yet, it seems likely that Pineda will earn the final spot. So far this spring he has an ERA of 0.00 in nine innings pitched, with 14 strikeouts. Also promising is the hard-throwing righty’s control; he has only given up one walk. On Tuesday he threw 45 of his 60 pitches for strikes.
If the Yankees do get a reliable starter in Pineda, it will have been a long time coming. When he was acquired in a trade with Seattle before the 2012 season, the idea of a young All-Star pitcher coming to New York was exciting; Yankee fans are used to seeing aging players on the field. But Pineda’s promise in the Bronx hasn’t yet come to fruition. Shoulder surgery sidelined him for the past two seasons.
If spring training has been any indication, Pineda has the potential to recreate his 2011 season.
“I feel like the same Michael Pineda,” he said via Yankees.com. “I have the same mechanics; my mechanics are now a little better….My arm is feeling good and I’m throwing the ball well.”
Ivan Nova followed up Pineda’s performance with a superb outing on Wednesday. Although Nova isn’t in competition with Pineda (Nova’s been named to the fourth spot), he pitched like an ace, going 6 1/3 innings and surrendering only two hits. Overall, Nova’s spring has been strong; he has a 3.66 ERA in 19 2/3 innings, although he did have a loss in one rough outing.
One of the keys to the Yankees’ success this season will be a strong back end of the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka, Nova, and Pineda are all in their mid-twenties, and may be needed to pick up the slack as the season wears on and older pitchers like CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda become fatigued.
Girardi said that he may have some “serious discussions” about the fifth starter after Pineda’s next start on Sunday.
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