New York Yankees: Pitching Staff and Michael Pineda Are the Keys to Success

Ray MowattContributor IApril 24, 2012

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 27: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was shot with an iPhone using Instagram) Michael Pineda #35 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait during the New York Yankees Photo Day on February 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Before the start of the 2012 season, the New York Yankees traded catcher Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Michael Pineda. I expected the Yankees to make a significant push for Yu Darvish after he was posted, but that didn't happen.

Pineda struggled to find his velocity in spring training and showed up overweight. Now he's been shut down for a while.

Still, acquiring the 23-year-old was the Yankees' most significant move in a long time. Whether the trade proves to be good or bad is still up in the air—as Montero was a potential offensive force—but Pineda's acquisition could play a major role in the late-season push towards the playoffs and beyond.

The Yankees are currently tied for first place in the American League East due to their offense, which ranks first or second in many of the major categories. Surprisingly, this comes after an offseason where very little was done offensively.They re-signed Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones, while letting big offensive names—which they would have pursued in the past —go to other teams.

Their pitching did receive the most attention when General Manager Brian Cashman attempted to bolster his rotation. Hiroki Kuroda was the marquee signing, followed by Pineda's acquisition and the re-signing of Phil Hughes, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain.

One would expect a staff with those quality arms to succeed when paired with CC Sabathia. Yet they currently sport a team ERA of 4.33, good for 21st in the league.

After such a slow start, the Yankees are hoping that their pitchers will live up to their quality and start pitching like they have in the past, especially Kuroda . With Andy Pettitte working his way back from “retirement,” and Michael Pineda resting until after the All-Star break, the Yankees could be sitting pretty if Pettitte can provide a veteran lift—like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon did for the Yankees early in the 2011 season. 

If Pineda can come back and show the same dominance he did early in 2011 for the Mariners, it would be the equivalent of a major Trading Deadline move and put the Yankees’ rotation in the argument for best in the American League.

But those are a lot of ifs, and those don’t always work out. Injuries happen, players regress, and teams have streaks that come out of nowhere. Nothing is really predictable in baseball. But if the Yankees continue to play well on offense and get better production from their pitchers, watch out for that call to the bullpen, “Enter Sandman.”