Yankees finalize rotation, name Michael Pineda fifth starter



The rotation order for the start of the 2014 season is set. Joe Girardi announced on Tuesday that Michael Pineda will be the team’s fifth starter, falling behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and Masahiro Tanaka. Girardi also said Pineda “does not have an innings limit on him,” which is surprising following shoulder surgery. Maybe that’s just their attempt to avoid a Strasburg-ian season-long distraction.

With Pineda in the rotation, both David Phelps and Adam Warren will shift into the bullpen, though they will not necessarily be long relievers. Girardi confirmed Vidal Nuno will also be considered for a relief role. Because of the way the schedule shakes out, the Yankees will need Pineda right away this year. No off-days to skip his spot. Tanaka and Pineda will make their first starts of the season in Toronto from April 4-5, then their Yankee Stadium debuts from April 9-10 against the Orioles and Red Sox, respectively.

Pineda, 25, has missed most of the last two seasons following shoulder surgery, but he came to camp healthy this spring and pitched very well, allowing only three runs (two earned) with a 16/1 K/BB in 15 innings across four appearances. His fastball has sat mostly in the 88-91 range, but he’s touched 92-94 and his slider has been ridiculously sharp. Pineda did not magically develop a changeup while on the DL the last two years, so that part of his game is still very much a work in progress.

The Yankees have used at least eight starters every year since 1975 and I have no reason to think 2014 will be any different. No team gets through the season with five guys. Phelps, Warren, and Nuno will all presumably start games at some point, just like they last season. Hopefully the team doesn’t need to dip any deeper into the pitching well beyond those three. Obviously Sabathia and Kuroda are a bit of a concern given their 2013 performance and age, respectively, but the other three starters are all young and full of potential. It’s exciting.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Frank says:

    YAY. Let’s hope he can outproduce Montero’s -0.8 Career WAR with the mariners!


    • ALZ says:

      Will people stop saying this. 0.0 WAR is just a base. Just because a player is worth negative WAR doesn’t mean they caused their teams losses, but rather they were that much worse than the hypothetical replacement player. You could readjust every player’s WAR up 1, and as long as it is done uniformly it would still essentially be correct, it would just be adjusting the baseline.

  2. sandy says:


    13 wins
    3.52 era
    171 innings
    171 k’s

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      Push (13)
      over (3.70s)
      under (165)
      under (agree about a k/9 though)

    • The Guns of Navarone says:

      Am I the only one who thinks he’s really going to struggle?

      He’s basically going to sit between 88-91 with the fastball and he has no third pitch. And remember, this is a guy who had long ball problems when he was slinging it at 97mph in Safeco Field. Combine that with the general rust of a young pitcher who hasn’t pitched in two seasons and I don’t think it bodes well.

      That being said, I don’t disagree with this decision. Phelps and Warren know their role and know they’ll start at some point this season. Pineda isn’t the guy to bounce back and forth to the bullpen. Put him in the rotation and see what he can do. It’s just I think he’ll struggle.

      Under (9)
      Over (4.40ish ERA)
      Under (110)
      Under (90)

      • ALZ says:

        He was also striking players out at a very healthy rate, and his FIP suggested he should have been better. At the end of it though, he is only the #5 starter. They don’t need him to have a 3.00 era. Anything close to 4.00 and I think the team would be pretty thrilled.

        • qwerty says:

          Igawa was striking out a lot of hitters in spring training as well. Spring training stats are not indicative of how a player will do during the regular season. If that were the case Cervelli would win the MVP.

      • qwerty says:

        These are my thoughts exactly. This is a kid who used to max out at 99 to 100 mph, and now he’s throwing 88-91 and topping out at 93 or 94 mph occasionally. Giving him a 4.40 ERA is actually quite generous. Most pitchers do not survive such a steep decline in their velocity. Just ask CC what that feels like because that is precisely how hard he was throwing last season. The major difference is that CC has other pitches, but once the velocity went down, hitters could just sit on his fastball. And all this is assuming that Pineda even stays healthy.

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          He’s sitting 90 and he should continue to build arm strength and improve as he gets further away from the injury.

          Also, his change up has been showing fringe-average, which is more than enough when you consider that slider. An average fastball with great control and a 75 slider is more than most starters have.

          • qwerty says:

            Pineda’s changeup is thrown in the high 80s, at least that’s how hard he threw it before he got hurt. That’s about the velocity of his fastball now. His slider does appear very good in spring, but even so he cannot be expected to throw it a majority of the time.

  3. TWTR says:

    Yet another reason why this season is likely to be 180 degrees more exciting than last season.

  4. dkidd says:

    hulk stay healthy
    hulk refine off-speed pitches
    hulk smash

  5. Dalek Jeter says:

    I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong, good choice Joe!

  6. BrianMcCannon says:

    Great news and well deserved. Can’t wait for Opening Day.

  7. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Hell yeah.

    I’ve been saying he would be fine for over a year at this point. Nice that I’m not looking wrong.

  8. The Great Gonzo says:

    This makes drafting him this Fantasy Season all worth it

  9. Dalek Jeter says:

    Unless there is some fanciness the first game I’m going to see Pineda in, and his first start at home is going to be against The Red Sox. Talk about being able to prove yourself right at the start of the season. I’m super excited for him.

    • RetroRob says:

      Is Tanaka’s first start also against the Red Sox?

      • Dalek Jeter says:

        No, Tanaka’s first start at home is the final game of the Orioles series. Pineda’s opening the 4 day weekend series against the Sox. Unless they get fancy it looks like that series will go Pineda (thurs), CC (fri), Kuroda (sat), and Nova (Sun)

        • RetroRob says:

          I don’t see anyway they can change things since they don’t have an off day until the 14th. Well, I suppose they could insert David Phelps into the rotation for one turn, having him pitch in the 4th slot second rotation through, pushing both Tanaka and Pineda one day for a little extra rest. That would mean you’d see Tanaka instead of Pineda.

          Yet I don’t see that happening this early in the season. Barring a rainout, it looks set up so you’ll see Pineda.

          • Dalek Jeter says:

            I’m just talking about watching on TV. I work nights and go to school till relatively late in the day, so I listen to most games on the radio/follow through GameDay. Luckily I’ll get to see both Tanaka’s and Pineda’s home debuts.

            • RetroRob says:

              Ahh, got it. I thought you were making the trek to the ballpark!

              • Dalek Jeter says:

                I wish. I’m hoping to get there at least a couple times this season, I didn’t get to go at all last year for Mo’s final season, but Jeter has been one of my favorite players for nearly 15 years. (I didn’t really follow baseball at all till I was 10, and only became a RAB level fanatic around 2009)

  10. RetroRob says:

    Right choice but it will be interesting to see how they manage his innings. His approximately 170 innings for the Mariners in 2011 were a career high and he seemed to hit the wall as the season progressed. Add in major shoulder surgery and two years off, I have a hard time seeing him pitch more than 150 innings this year. That will be great if he does that, but I see lots of Phelps, Warren and maybe even Nuno being mixed in this year.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      I think the “hitting the wall” has been slightly overblown. You can see his peripherals stayed about the same throughout the season, results got slightly worse…but I think it’s encouraging that he was pitching the same.

      • RetroRob says:

        I remember that article, and basically agree with it (meaning it’s probably a little overblown), but it also wouldn’t have been surprising his first full year in the majors. The Mariners were also trying to manage his innings towards the end. I’m just curious to see what the Yankees do because, unlike the Mariners, they also play for October baseball.

        They could occasionally skip Pineda as the season progresses, pairing him with Phelps or Warren. Yet he is the 5th starter, and the 5th starter usually ends up well below 200 innings pitched for various reasons.

        Let’s hope this turns out to be a problem they have to consider!

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        He actually got more grounders as the season went on.

    • ALZ says:

      I think they should early on just be a bit more eager to pull him. Keep him from going over 100 pitches too much. But also should watch how their season is going. If coming into September this team is definitely out of it, then really cut down on his innings. But if this team looks like they will make some noise in October they are better off with the increased injury risk, but also the better team. I thought the same thing for the Strasburg situation. That team looked really good, they should have pushed harder for the WS while they were so good, instead of shutting him down, but also really ending your WS hopes.

  11. Nathan says:

    Time for him to sink or swim.

  12. Wheels says:

    Love it, no pussyfooting around.

  13. JGYank says:

    Finally! We all wanted him to win because of his upside and future potential, and now he gets to show that upside. Let’s hope he’s able to pitch well and efficiently so he doesn’t have to worry to much about the innings limit. I think he’s only going to gain velocity after his surgery as the season goes on and he’s still young and learning so I expect him to only improve in the future. He’s basically replacing Hughes from last year’s rotation so that’s not a tall task.

  14. Yankee$ says:

    Nuno “will be considered” for a bullpen role means no change there or definitive decision yet, right?

    • Jeff says:

      I don’t get they appeal of this Nuno guy.

      • Dalek Jeter says:

        Well, namesake, he’s a lefty. That’s always a plus, LHP that can get outs are always a valuable commodity. Though he doesn’t really have a “put out” pitch, he’s gotten outs at every level he’s pitched and pitched well in ST. I have no problem with him getting a shot.

        • Yankee$ says:

          He’ll get a shot. I say keep him stretched out in AAA rotation for now and then let him be the 6th Starter. If (when) a starter goes down, leave Phelps and Warren in the roles they break camp in and slide Nuno into the rotation then.

  15. Axis of Mike says:

    If he can give us 6 ip of 3 runs or less on average even for only 150 innings it’s a win. IMHO.

    (on a side note, could IMHO double as a meme for prostitutes?)

  16. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    This is going to be fun.

    (I hope.)

  17. Jeff says:

    We should have a forum..

  18. Dalek Jeter says:

    The Yankees have officially named Michael Pineda their fifth starter to start the season, Joe Girardi announced.

  19. Betty Lizard says:

    Lizard dance. Dreams of warm weather and strikeouts and total domination. Joy!

  20. Joey says:

    Girardi has said Pineda won’t have an innings limit. I don’t believe that for one sec

    • RetroRob says:

      I sort of believe them when they say they’re going to watch him and determine from there. Yet I also think there will be an innings limit. He’s just not going to tell anyone and he shouldn’t. As the Joba and Strasburg situations showed, there is everything to lose and nothing to be gained by putting a number out there.

    • Yankee$ says:

      He just doesn’t want to talk about it and have it be a distraction like Joba Rules.

      • Fin says:

        Even worse was Strausburg. I think the media asked about his innings limit after every start, starting with his first start of the season and that was in Atlanta. The press just keeps asking the same questions over and over. I wouldn’t let on to my plan either and have the stupid media hound me from opening day until the last. God forbid you change the plan, then they start second guessing you from that day forward. The press really makes it hard for teams to be honest with its fan base.

  21. Eddardo Nuney says:

    This is the right move. Pineda has more upside and I think the Yanks will end up getting the better of the Montero trade. Phelps gives them one of the better 1-2-3 punches to close out a baseball game – Phelps, Kelley, Robertson. And if they need Phelps can pitch the 6th and 7th to give Joe extra versatility.

  22. JGYank says:

    Our rotation of names ending in A is complete. SabathiA KurodA NovA TanakA PinedA. Now all we have to do is trade for Molina to have the perfect battery.

  23. Govin says:

    I hope I’m not the only one that has to admit that I wanted Pineda just so I could make A team jokes throughout the season. I guess I did want him for his pretty high upside to.

  24. LarryM Fl says:

    While I’m very happy Pineda is healthy and pitched well enough to make the 5th starter spot. I’m just a bit concerned about his lack of pitching the last two years and his durability. There is no way to find out unless his does pitch. So here we go. The rotation sounds better in names alone than last year. The rotation is solid and capable of keeping us in games.

  25. ropeadope says:

    Glad to see we’re going with our A* rotation. SabathiA, KurodA* , NovA, TanakA, PinedA*.

    *Credit to Betty Lizard for the terminology.

    • ropeadope says:

      Oh, and I see JGYank above had the same thought (which I missed – sorry JGYank)

    • OB/GYN Kenobi says:

      But how come only Kuroda and Pineda get stars in your system?

      • ropeadope says:

        Those are asterisks, not stars. And Kuroda and Pineda got asterisks because I’m a blind, spastic dumbass who clicked the submit button before I intended to do so.

        Should have been: SabathiA, KurodA, NovA, TanakA, PinedA.

  26. Alkaline says:

    Let’s go Hulkneda!

  27. John Duci says:

    15 wins 2.80 ERA 180 innings 190k… No I’m not high this guy is dominant

  28. Dale Mohorcic says:

    “The Yankees have used at least eight starters every year since 1975″

    aka the answer to any comment about having “excess” starting pitching.

    • Fin says:

      Yea but barring an injury plagued situation, I have to imagine that that 7th and 8th starter, pitch only a few games between them. As much pitching depth as the Yankees or any team has, they cant withstand an injury plagued season. Guys like Phelps, Warren and Nuno aren’t going to save your season if two or three of CC, Koruda, Nova or Tanka go down. Having Phelps around to step in if a starter has to miss significant time is nice and Nuno to spot start a few games. Anymore than that and no team really has the depth.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.