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Predictions for Michael Pineda's Second-Half Yankees Stats, Impact

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIOctober 10, 2016

Predictions for Michael Pineda's Second-Half Yankees Stats, Impact

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    The New York Yankees can use all the help they can get in their pursuit of a postseason berth, and Michael Pineda could be exactly what they need to give their pitching staff an extra boost.

    Pineda is slowly working his way back to the big leagues, and the Yankees will not rush his return. When he's ready, he'll be in the major league rotation.

    He's most certainly not ready just yet. His previous rehab start on July 1 for Double-A Trenton went poorly, as he threw just 32 of his 67 pitches for strikes. He walked four as a result but also struck out four. With command being an issue, Pineda lasted just three innings.

    Consistency will be the key to Pineda's return. If he can string together a few nice starts, the Yankees will likely bring him up to make his team debut. He'll have to prove he can pitch deep into ball games as well.

    The Yankees' weakness may be their lineup, but strengthening the pitching staff would be a smart move for the stretch run. Pineda hasn't pitched in the bigs in awhile, but he'll provide a fresh arm to a rotation that has tossed a lot of innings.

    Pineda is a question mark because he hasn't pitched in so long, but the big right-hander has the potential to put up really solid numbers in half a season's work.

Starts

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    The Yankees' goal is to work Pineda up to 100 pitches before calling on him to help the major league rotation. Having thrown 67 on July 1, Pineda could be on track to work his way up to 100 by early August (if he goes longer in each start, of course).

    With that being the case, Pineda should be able to make around 12 starts or so if he doesn't miss a start. That may not seem like all that many starts, but an effective Pineda for 12 starts could be just what the team needs as it enters the race for a playoff spot.

    That number of starts is contingent on two things. For one, Pineda will have to be up in the bigs by the beginning of August. If the Yankees choose to hold him in Triple-A to work out the bugs, Pineda may not have the time necessary to get back into major league form.

    Secondly, Pineda will have to remain healthy. After missing so long with an injury, Pineda will be watched closely by the organization. If he so much as winces after throwing a pitch, the trainers will be running to the mound.

Innings Pitched

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    Pineda should be able to toss around 70 innings or so after making his return. A more realistic number could be 60 innings, but a bold prediction of 70 is still attainable.

    Pineda can reach 70 innings by going six innings per start—something he may have trouble doing as he reacclimates himself to the league. Getting deep into games will likely be one of the last things Pineda will do before being 100 percent ready.

    Seventy innings may not seem like a lot, but a quality 70 innings would be a boost for the Yankees. Reports say Pineda has been sitting around 95 miles per hour. If he can keep that velocity going for a whole game, he will be tough for the opposition to beat.

    He's not Justin Verlander, but Pineda throws hard enough to miss bats.

Record

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    Pineda's record will only partially be a record of how well he pitches. It'll be difficult for him to post a winning record with the way the team's offense has been hitting of late.

    A 4-4 record seems reasonable for Pineda. He was 9-10 in 2011 for a poor offensive team in Seattle, and it's not entirely his fault his record fell below .500. Sure, a bad second half didn't help him, but such a strong first half was overshadowed by a lack of firepower in the lineup.

    Pineda does have the impending returns of Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez going for him, though, so he may be returning just in time to have some more pop on his side.

    Like I said, records don't show exactly how well a pitcher pitches. Examining SO/BB ratios, ERA+ and BABIP are better measures, albeit ones that aren't always easy to process. Still, a pitcher with a .500 record can be relied upon.

SO/BB Ratio

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    Pineda has always been a great source for strikeouts. He struck out 173 batters in 171 innings for the Mariners in 2011 because of his ability to use all of his pitches to make batters miss.

    We shouldn't expect Pineda to eclipse a strikeout per inning after being shelved for so long, but 65 strikeouts through 70 innings is doable. He could very well strike out, say, 10 more, but that would simply be a bonus.

    Pineda had a SO/BB ratio of 3.15 in 2011. This is respectable, though he could use a little work staying around the plate. It doesn't matter how many batters he strikes out if he issues a ton of free passes, so he'll have to possibly sacrifice some velocity to stay near the zone.

    The Yankees lack a true power arm in this year's rotation, but Pineda could provide one. I say he pitches to a 3.4 SO/BB ratio.

ERA

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    The big right-hander won't dominate when he returns, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an ERA in the low threes. His ERA was 3.74 in 2011, but I think that he'll lower that down to around 3.45. Such an ERA would allow even the Yankees to put up enough runs to win.

    Pineda will be rusty, but he will also have the advantage of unfamiliarity. The opposition hasn't likely seen much of Pineda before, and scouting reports from rehab assignments only go so far in gauging what somebody can do.

    Plus, a hard thrower like him can miss enough bats to keep his ERA lower than somebody who relies on contact to get outs.

    Pineda has the potential to be a pitcher with a sub-3.00 ERA, but that won't happen this year. He needs a whole season to figure things out before anybody can declare he is back to his 2011 form. A 3.45 ERA at the back of the rotation won't go unnoticed, however.

Impact

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    Pineda's impact will only be as great as the Yankees allow it to be. If the team puts him situations to be successful, he has the talent to succeed. It's simple.

    David Phelps and Phil Hughes, though inconsistent, aren't "bad" enough options at the back end of the rotation to be immediately displaced by a guy who hasn't pitched in a year-and-a-half. That being said, the first sign of faltering would create an opening for Pineda. If the Yankees get him into the rotation quickly, he has the potential to impact the playoff race.

    The biggest problem for the Yankees is hitting, not pitching. Pineda will provide a boost to the staff but may not actually help a lot if the team is still failing to score runs. The returns of several stars would help, but they haven't seen a diamond in quite some time either.

    Pineda's presence may only account for one or two wins by season's end. He's not a perennial Cy Young contender who can change the landscape of a division with just 12 starts.

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