The Yankees might finally get something out of right-hander Michael Pineda -- and so might deep dynasty league owners who kept the faith through two full seasons of nothingness.
Pineda threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday in a Grapefruit League start against the Red Sox, striking out five batters without issuing a walk and hurling 45 of his 60 pitches for strikes. His fastball mainly sat in the 89-92 mph range, but it did touch 94 mph at one point and his slider looked about as sharp as it did in 2011, his breakout rookie season with Seattle.
“This is the guy who we’ve been expecting to see the last couple of years,” teammate Mark Teixeira told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News after Tuesday’s game. “Now that he’s back in spring training it’s real exciting to see him healthy and pitching well. If he he’s healthy, if he’s the guy we traded for a couple of years ago, he’s a top of the rotation starter. And those guys don’t come around easily.”
The Yankees acquired Pineda from the Mariners in January 2012 as part of a four-player swap that sent then-top-prospect Jesus Montero to the Pacific Northwest. Montero showed up to Mariners camp this spring 40 pounds overweight and looks like a complete bust at age 24. Pineda hasn’t been that sort of headache for Yankees management, but he needed major shoulder surgery just before the opening of the 2012 campaign and then failed to make it out of Triple-A in 2013 after again experiencing shoulder issues.
Now the 25-year-old Dominican right-hander has a 0.00 ERA and 14 strikeouts in nine innings (three appearances) of Grapefruit League action and appears to be a lock for the Yankees’ season-opening starting rotation.
Pineda posted a 3.74 ERA, 1.099 WHIP, and 173 strikeouts in 171 innings for the Mariners back in 2011. That flash of front-line starter potential makes him worthy of a late-round fantasy flier this spring in standard redraft formats. He’s a man on the rise in the 2014 Rotoworld Online Draft Guide, which is updated regularly throughout spring training.
Quintana Brutalized By A’s In Cactus League
White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana allowed a whopping nine runs on seven hits and two walks without getting a single out in his Cactus League start Tuesday afternoon against the A’s. Had it been a regular-season outing, it would have been the worst stat line in Major League Baseball history. And that’s not hyperbole. That’s fact.
Quintana told reporters afterward that there is nothing wrong with him physically, and that he’ll be “fine when the season starts,” but he has also struggled in his other rotation turns this spring, allowing a total of 17 hits and 20 earned runs in just six innings for an ERA of 30.00.
It’s silly to read too much into spring training stats -- the sample size is incredibly small and they’re all essentially meaningless games -- but the way Quintana has been hammered is pretty tough to ignore. Something to think about, at least, on draft day.
Headley Cleared To Play In Live Games
San Diego manager Bud Black announced Tuesday evening that Chase Headley, who has been sidelined for the large majority of spring training with a right calf strain, will play in his first minor league game on Wednesday in Padres camp and could then join the club’s Cactus League lineup for his official spring debut on Thursday.
Headley fully expects to be ready for the start of the 2014 regular season and the switch-hitting third baseman told MLB.com’s Corey Brock that he only needs 15 to 20 at-bats from each side of the plate to get his swing properly tuned for real major league competition.
That might be more reassuring if he didn’t finish with a pedestrian .747 OPS, 13 homers, and 50 RBI in 2013 after missing the first month of the season with a fractured thumb. He had a problem-free spring in 2012 and went on to register an .875 OPS with 31 home runs, 115 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 161 games.
There’s a low-risk, high-reward factor with Headley at his current Yahoo! ADP (average draft position) of 196.3. But it’s easy to understand why so many people are passing on the 29-year-old this spring.
Iwakuma Nearly Ready To Resume Throwing
It has been well over a month since Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma strained the middle finger on his pitching hand when he caught it in a protective net and we finally have some good news to pass along about his status.
As beat writer Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reported Tuesday afternoon, Iwakuma has received medical clearance to resume throwing -- starting Wednesday with tennis balls and then moving on to baseballs by early next week.
“The finger is very stiff right now but the good thing is I’m pain-free,” Iwakuma told the News Tribune on Tuesday through interpreter Anthony Suzuki. “We’ll do a lot of range-of-motion (exercises) starting today for the next couple of days. It did take five weeks, but I’m slowly and gradually going forward.”
Iwakuma built big-time fantasy buzz last year by posting a 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 185/42 K/BB ratio in 219 2/3 innings for the Mariners, but this injury has brushed him away from the spotlight this spring. He might only miss the first couple weeks of the 2014 regular season -- making him a potential steal in some fantasy drafts. The 32-year-old native of Tokyo, Japan finished third in the voting for the 2013 American League Cy Young Award.