In his first three starts, he has been stellar. He has recorded six innings in each start, allowing one run or less in each start. The one loss he has happened on a night when the Yankees failed to score. It is tough to win when your team scores zero runs, so we will let that go. Nevertheless, he has thrown between 83 and 94 pitches per start – respectable for the month of April – with no signs of trouble. His fastball velocity is averaging in the low 90’s while his slider is hitting the middle 80’s. While the fastball is not at 95, as we saw in Seattle, he is getting the results needed. Those velocities create enough variance to get an impressive 7.5 K/9 ratio. His control is also there, posting a 1.5 BB/9 ratio and a WHIP of 0.889.
It will be hard to keep up those kind of stats, but these are still signs of greatness from which we can have hope. The real limiting factor for Pineda wins, as we saw in his first start against Toronto, is run support. In his first three starts, he is averaging 3.2 RS/IP. With the injuries to the Yankee hitters, this stat can be a sign of trouble. He cannot be expected to allow only one run per game over the whole season.
I am not sure that Michael Pineda is at the 20-game winner level quite yet, but he is definitely within striking distance. Recording 18 wins this season is a very realistic expectation right now. If our hitting returns to normal productivity, the answer is a resounding yes. The fact that he is only 25 years old makes it easier for him to stay healthy. His next test will be more a mental one than anything else – Fenway Park, possibly against Jon Lester. The way the ball is coming out of Pineda’s hand, I like our chances.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
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