While Yankees GM Brian Cashman has had his fair share of misses in terms of acquiring impact starting pitching both via trades and free agency, last night’s 16-strikeout performance by Michael Pineda and the 26-year-old’s brilliant start to the season serve help to erase some of those previous whiffs from his record, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Pineda has been every bit as good as Matt Harvey this season, Madden notes — the two have identical 2.72 ERAs — but with a fraction of the hype (though the 16 punchouts will likely balance some of that out). Manager Joe Girardi cited improvement in Pineda’s changeup, consistency in throwing strikes and improved maturity as reasons for Pineda’s breakout this season. Madden recalls both Cashman and his Seattle counterpart, Jack Zduriencik, calling the Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade one of the toughest trades they’ve ever had to make, as each was parting with a potential future star. However, Montero’s future is questionable at best, as he’s moved off catcher and has yet to establish himself in the Major Leagues.
A few more notes from the AL East…
- Chad Jennings of the Journal News also discusses the Pineda trade, recalling that at the time the deal was made, one talent evaluator told him that the safest bet in the trade was Montero’s bat. Every Yankees person to whom Jennings spoke back in 2012 said that it’d be several years before it was clear whether or not the Yankees had “won” the trade, and Jennings notes that that does seem to be the case now. Jennings spoke with Pineda who admitted that he’s done quite a bit of growing up in the past three years.
- Orioles righty Kevin Gausman is currently on the disabled list and could be activated as soon as May 22, but when he does come off the DL, he’ll likely head to Triple-A and work as a starter, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Orioles manager Buck Showalter worries that Gausman has been underutilized coming out of the bullpen this season. Gausman himself told Encina that the team has said they don’t want him to finish the season with 40-50 innings and then have to jump into the rotation in 2016. As Encina notes, both Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are free agents at season’s end, which could pave the way for a rotation spot with Gausman’s name on it.
- Though Red Sox manager John Farrell is still maintaining that there will not be changes made to the rotation, his stance appears to have softened a bit, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Not at the present moment,” Farrell said when asked if changes were planned. “Now, that’s always up for review. We’ll see how we continue to progress through the rotation for another turn.” Farrell was specifically asked about the possibility of moving Joe Kelly, who has yielded 21 runs over his past 21 2/3 innings, to the bullpen, but Farrell said such a change hadn’t been “closely discussed.” The Sox may want to get new pitching coach Carl Willis’ take on the rotation before making any decisions, Abraham notes.