Michael Pineda was very good for the Yankees last season, but a suspension and injuries limited him to just 13 starts. This year he’s healthy and the results are fantastic, with a 4-0 record, 2.97 ERA, and 38/3 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.
Tuesday he shut out the Blue Jays for eight innings, striking out six, walking one, and topping 100 pitches for just the second time since 2011. Yes, since 2011.
Pineda debuted for the Mariners as a 22-year-old, was traded to the Yankees at age 23, and has a lengthy injury history that includes missing all of 2012 and 2013, so it seems like he’s been around forever. However, he’s still just 26 years old and between last season and this season Pineda has started 19 games for the Yankees with a 2.26 ERA, .219 opponents’ batting average, and 97/10 K/BB ratio in 116 innings.
He no longer throws as hard as he did before all the arm problems, but Pineda can still miss plenty of bats and he’s gone from having shaky control to walking fewer than one batter per nine innings. Among all MLB pitchers with at least 100 innings since the beginning of last season Pineda ranks second in walk rate and second in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Now he just has to stay healthy.
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was forced out of Tuesday’s start after just three innings due to what the team is calling “discomfort under his shoulder blade.”
Strasburg insisted after the game that injury isn’t serious, telling Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that he thinks visiting a chiropractor could fix things:
I think it’s something where I just need to get an adjustment, or something like that. The best way I can put it: You’re driving a car fast over speed bumps. The irritation kind of rattles the cage a little bit.
For now he’ll remain on the active roster, but he was clearly in significant discomfort during the game. Zuckerman writes that Strasburg “grimaced several times after throwing pitches in the first inning, then again in the top of the second” and apparently it was also an issue during his previous start.
His velocity has been just fine in the mid-90s and he’s got 32 strikeouts in 32 innings, but Strasburg has walked 10 batters and opponents are hitting .309 off him (and the defense behind him, of course).
Tonight the Royals’ MLB-best bullpen and its 1.00 ERA are expected to get closer Greg Holland back from the disabled list and Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that they’re also likely to get setup man Luke Hochevar back this weekend.
Hochevar missed all of last season following Tommy John elbow surgery and was a terrible starter from 2007-2012, but the former No. 1 overall pick thrived after shifting to the bullpen full time in 2013 with a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 70 innings.
If he returns to pick up anywhere near where he left off the Royals’ bullpen is going to be ridiculously scary, with Holland ranking as one of the elite closers in baseball and his setup men consisting of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales, Jason Frasor, and Hochevar.