Michael Pineda missed each of the past two seasons recovering from shoulder surgery and has yet to throw a regular season pitch for the Yankees after they acquired him from the Mariners for Jesus Montero in January of 2012, but that’s about to change.
Pineda is officially Joe Girardi’s choice for the fifth spot in the Yankees’ rotation, convincing the manager he was ready by throwing 15 innings with a 1.20 ERA and 16/1 K/BB ratio this spring.
Prior to blowing out his shoulder Pineda looked like one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball, making the All-Star team as a 22-year-old rookie in 2011 on the way to throwing 171 innings with a 3.74 ERA and 173/55 K/BB ratio for Seattle.
He’s regularly been clocked in the low-90s during spring training. That can’t compare to his average fastball of 94.7 miles per hour in 2011, but it’s certainly enough to get big-league hitters out and expecting that same pitcher to show up now would obviously be wishful thinking anyway. Pineda is still only 25 years old and, if healthy, he could have a big impact for the Yankees.
(Also of note: Montero has been terrible for the Mariners and could be close to playing–and eating–his way out of their plans. He was sent to Triple-A last week.)
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.