Is Michael Pineda A Must Own Option For The Remainder Of ’14?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Yankees Michael Pineda certainly doesn’t make it easy to depend on him, does he? Between injuries and the pine tar incident from earlier this season, it’s very difficult to have faith that not only can he produce (under intense scrutiny), but that he can do so for any extended period.

Of course it’s hard to argue with what he’s done, albeit for just 30.2 innings this season. He currently owns a 2.05 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, but does that mean we should be rushing to the waiver wire to grab him?

The first thing to note is that his velocity is down, dramatically, from when he burst onto the scene with the Mariners in 2011. Back then he averaged 94.7 mph on his fastball. Currently he’s at 92.0.

That helps to explain his drop in strikeouts, currently with a 6.46 K/9. That said, it’s an extremely small sample size and he also owns a 10.4% SwStr%. Plus, in August the velocity has been there with an average four seam fastball of 94.0 mph (he was at 93.04 on his four seamer only earlier in the year). In other words, there’s still significant upside in the strikeout department.

He also has always shown good control, including a 2.1 BB/9 over his minor league career. While his 1.17 this season may be a bit extreme, there’s an awful lot to like.

The problem, however, starts with his luck metrics. While a 78.1% strand rate isn’t incredibly lucky there’s room for regression. A .244 BABIP and 14.8% line drive rate, however, scream to come back down to earth.

While he has generated a fair amount of pop ups (10.9%), a 52.3% fly ball rate and 0.29 HR/9, pitching half his games in Yankee Stadium, also screams of trouble. Remember he owned a 0.95 HR/9 while pitching for the Mariners in 2011. Unfortunately things could turn into home run derby before too long.

So where exactly does that leave us? While the strikeout upside is nice, the other numbers could spell disaster (and the home run concern is real, small sample size or not). Is he worth owning? Absolutely, but he’s hardly a must use option. At this point the risk simply may outweigh any reward he could give you.

As it is, pitching for the Yankees doesn’t hold the same cache (aka win upside) that it used to.

At this point I’d take the gamble on Pineda over someone like Kevin Gausman or a veteran with little upside (like Bartolo Colon), but I wouldn’t go nuts to acquire him.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference

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