Tonight's start should be Michael Pineda’s last chance

Michael Pineda has been quite literally one of the worst pitchers in Major League Baseball this season. With a 2-6 record and his cringing 6.92 ERA (the highest among qualified pitchers in the MLB), the Yankees have several options in store for Pineda. They’ve let him struggle for two months, 10 starts, and 52 games. But if he does not have a good outing tonight, something has to be done to the once highly regarded starting pitcher.
Picture Credit: Ross D. Franklin | AP
Pineda is having his worst season as a professional in all facets. He has a WHIP of 1.65, and he is allowing 12 hits per nine innings pitched as well as nearly two homers per nine. Additionally, he allowed just 21 walks in 160.2 innings last year, but he already has 15 walks allowed in only 53.1 innings this year.

And Pineda’s numbers are not misleading due to a few horrible starts. Pineda has been consistently bad, with only four quality starts. To make matters worse, the Yankees have lost seven of Pineda’s 10 starts this year. His outings have essentially been an automatic loss for a Yankee team where wins are coming at a premium.

Many general managers across baseball have a mindset that they try to let things figure themselves out through the first 50 games, and after that, they make a change. We've recently seen pitchers like Phil Hughes of the Twins, Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox, and Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers receiving notice that they are being demoted to the bullpen. The Mets even threatened to send Matt Harvey to the bullpen. Now going into game 53, the time is now for Brian Cashman to make a change if Pineda gets hit hard again tonight.

Now, what do the Yankees need to do if Pineda falters tonight?

1. Demote him to the bullpen
This is the most likely of the scenarios for the New York Yankees. The oh-so prevalent ‘Scranton-Shuttle’ has already begun shuttling players back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues, so if the Yankees do elect to demote him to the bullpen, they will likely send either Nick Goody, or Richard Bleier to Scranton. Luis Cessa would then likely be placed in the rotation, temporarily, I might add. Chad Green could also see a spot start along with others with the RailRiders.

2. Demote him to Triple-A
This may seem like an overreaction, but the fans who have been watching how brutal Pineda has been know this may be necessary. Ironically, Pineda has minor league options, so the Yankees can demote him without any problems. Pineda does not yet have enough service time to refuse a minor league assignment, but as he is quickly approaching the ability to do so, the Yankees best bet may be demoting him while they still can.

Conclusion
Demoting him would be much easier to do if Luis Severino had been pitching well before his injury. Severino’s struggles have complicated things because if Pineda goes to the minor leagues, Cessa, Green, and other Scranton starters will be tasked with making spot starts in his place. However, the same thing applies if he is demoted to the bullpen. A Pineda demotion would likely expedite the process of getting Severino back to the Bronx. A demotion to the minor leagues may be in store for the big right-hander, and that may be the best thing for the him and the Yankees.

In Triple-A, Pineda would have the chance to regain his lost confidence by facing lesser-developed, less talented hitters. This would allow him to establish his secondary pitches and regain the ability to experiment and throw them in any count. My personal recommendation is that he is demoted to Triple-A, regardless of what happens tonight. But if he is unsuccessful once again tonight, that may accelerate the process towards some sort of demotion.

Article by: Chad Raines
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