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Pineda zeroing in on fifth starter job

Big right-hander's massive potential should be enough to earn spot in rotation
03/19/2014 11:08 AM ET
By Doug Williams

Background: Michael Pineda is a 25-year-old starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. He was traded to the Yankees after the 2011 season for Yankees prospect Jesus Montero. Pineda had shoulder surgery in 2012 and has yet to pitch in a major league game for the Yankees. As of now, Pineda is competing with David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno for the fifth starter job in the 2014 Yankees rotation.

2011 Season: Pineda hasn't pitched in the big leagues since his rookie season in 2011. He was an All-Star and went 9-10 on a bad Seattle team with a 3.74 ERA and 173 K's in 171 innings.

Greatest Strength: The phrase that always comes up with Michael Pineda is "high ceiling." The Yankees know how good and dominant he can be. He was, after all, a No. 2 starter for the Mariners in his rookie season. His stuff is electric and his presence on the mound is intimidating. Nobody knows much about his shoulder and whether it can hold up, but the high ceiling makes him an interesting option.

Greatest Weakness: There are just a lot of questions with Pineda. Will there be an innings limit if he does win the job? Will his shoulder hold up? Is his lower velocity since 2011 a sign that his health isn't where it should be? With only one full season under his belt, we're just going to have to wait for answers to all of them.

Prediction: Pineda will most likely win the job because of how effective he's been this spring. He's yet to give up a run and is throwing strikes. It also doesn't hurt that David Phelps has proven that he is capable of coming out of the bullpen, and he figures to be Pineda's biggest competition at the moment. Look for Pineda to start the season in the rotation and throw about 170 innings, if healthy. As for his effectiveness? If this spring is any indication, he's going to be a very electric guy to have as their fifth starter.

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