Comeback complete: Michael Pineda made the Yankees’ rotation

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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.)

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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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.