I forget about Michael Pineda sometimes. He made quite a splash as a rookie in 2011 and then was a part of the Jesus Montero trade which hasn’t worked out for anyone. He was supposed to be a big part of the Yankees rotation for the past couple of years but hasn’t thrown a pitch. If he’s being honest in these comments to the New York Post, however, that will change in 2014:
“I’m going to compete for the rotation,” Pineda said. “I’m the same Michael Pineda. I’m 100 percent now and my body is in good shape . . . I know I had the surgery and the injury to my shoulder, but I’m feeling stronger and the shoulder is feeling good”
This is wait and see territory, of course. Because last year about this time there were reports of him hitting the low-to-mid 90s in workouts. About him losing weight and being in great shape. And he still didn’t throw a pitch. That’s what bum shoulders do for you.
But he could certainly be X-factor for the Yankees this season if things have changed.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.