Spring Training is finally winding down. Most teams are just a week removed from their first official game of the season and as of now, the Yankees’ starting rotation is still not set. And for once, the problem is not a shortage of starting pitching options, it is a surplus.
So far CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are all set. Phil Hughes who has impressed this Spring seems as if he would be a likely candidate for a spot in the rotation as well which leaves us with Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Michael Pineda.
Out of those three, Ivan Nova won 18 games last year for the Yankees, Freddy Garcia is a veteran and has a long track record and Michael Pineda is the new kid on the block.
But the pitcher who seems to be the focus of the “Should he or shouldn’t he be in the rotation?” discussions and the who has caused the most indecisiveness among the teams coaches is the newcomer Pineda.
As has been documented ad nausem, on this blog and on every other Yankee blog from here to kingdom come, the main source of grief – if you will – is the decreased velocity of Pineda’s fastball. But while his fastball may be slower than expected, his off speed pitches have been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees coaching staff.
And it’s not as if Pineda has been going out and getting shelled in every outing. It’s just that he was throwing in the mid to high 90′s last year and that velocity has not been reached as of yet.
So Pineda’s last chance may be tonight. He is scheduled to pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies and the plan according to Manager Joe Girardi, is to stretch him out. His performance in the game may be the difference between being added to the starting rotation or starting the season in Triple-A.