Michael Pineda complains of sore shoulder after rough night

74 Comments

Update: Pineda complained of shoulder soreness after his outing tonight and will undergo an MRI on Saturday. It’s still not official, but now it seems pretty certain that he won’t be in the rotation to start the year.

///

Michael Pineda is already hearing the boo-birds in pinstripes, without even having pitched in a regular-season game for the Yankees.

The struggling right-hander was pulled after allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Phillies on Friday night, taking his spring ERA to 5.68. With his velocity still down, there’s a good chance he’ll be bumped from the rotation and optioned to Triple-A.

While Pineda’s lost velocity has long been the talk of Yankees camp, he was still pretty effective until tonight, going 1-0 with a 3.31 ERA and a 16/7 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. If the Yankees didn’t have six starters for five spots, they’d almost surely give him a chance to work through the velocity issues in the regular season. Still, sending him down seems like the obvious choice now. They’ll still have Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in the rotation.

As disappointing as the series of events has been, it’s way too early to rule on the Jesus Montero-for-Pineda trade. Pineda showed some of the best stuff in the AL last year, and while the drop off in his fastball is a big concern, he says he’s healthy. It’s probably time to write him off for April, but he still could be a difference maker for the Bombers this season.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.