After Jacoby Ellsbury’s epic steal of home in Friday night’s win against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Topps Company tweeted Yankees beat writer Ryan Hatch a picture of the Yankees CF’er sliding into home plate. It was a great picture of what was, to be honest, the most thrilling moment of the Yankees season to date.
As I watched Michael Pineda spin around and watch home run after home run, three in total, soar over his head on Sunday afternoon I had the picture of that card in my mind, and wondered what it would look like. Pineda, always full of movement on the mound, even during his dominant starts, bent half backwards trying desperately, futilely to keep those long balls in the park. The card was just as painful to envision as it sounds.
Almost as painful as Pineda has been to watch this season while compiling a 6.95 ERA across 22 IP. His inconsistency has been his downfall as his strike out numbers are still strong (27 across those 22 innings) but giving up over a hit per inning. He seemed like he had turned a corner over his past two appearances, both of them quality starts with 2 ERs or less. He still averaged a hit per inning but surrendered zero home runs. It seemed like a healthy Pineda was rounding into shape.
Then came Sunday’s debacle. Pineda essentially took the Yankees out of the game before they even came to bat, giving up 5 ERs in the first inning to the team in the American League with the second fewest hits, third lowest team BA and fourth fewest runs scored.
What’s worse, all 5 came with two outs. This, in particular, has been the Yankees Achilles Heel. The team ERA with 2 outs is last in the A.L. at 6.70. In fact, they have the fourth worse such ERA in all of MLB. Pineda is a big part of that, compiling a 16.71 ERA with two outs.
Remember when Phil Hughes would strike out the first two batters of an inning and then fall apart after that? That’s the entire Yankees pitching staff right now. It’s not fun to watch. Pineda, in particular, needs to regress his stats back to normal. He has already given up 1/3 of the HRs he gave up last season and that was across more than 160 IP.
As disappointing a start as it was by Pineda, the Yankees won the series after taking the first 2 from Tampa Bay and, this early in the season, that’s what they needed to do. They even got a shiny new Topps card out of it.