There has been some concern over Pineda for a couple of reasons. First of all, he has not been in the best of shape which clearly put the Yankees at odds with him. Being behind the eight ball, Pineda was instantly put on notice to have to pitch at his best to keep the Yankees off his back. The fact that he hasn't pitched well has now put his spot in the rotation, which seemed a lock before spring training, in serious jeopardy.
His numbers have not been good. In six starts, he is 1-0 with a 5.68 ERA and 18 Ks in 19 IP. Those numbers in itself are not disturbing since it is just spring training. He has though, given up 24 hits and 10 BB in the same 19 IP, with his WHIP calculated at 1.79 for the spring. There are now concerns about a potential arm injury since he has had some soreness in his shoulder. If he is injured, this is a whole different story. You never want to see a talented pitcher hurt and we all know injuries affect results, so if he is injured, he should not be out there.
But, if he is healthy and is simply off to a bad start, could the Yankees regret sending him to AAA to start the season? The easy answer is no, since he will get regular work, a chance to make his regular starts and could be easily worked back into the rotation if there is an injury or one of the other starters struggles. But if it takes him a little time to regain his 2011 form, it could lead to him not appearing in the majors all season. With the before mentioned Pettitte returning, there simply may not be room for a less than electrifying Pineda once he is officially sent down. This should be considered before such a move is made. Personally, I think both he and Nova should make the rotation with Garcia making the team as a long reliever. Since both have minor league options, they can be sent down if either or both struggle to start the season.
Michael Pineda was brought in the be an asset for the Yankees for years to come. I still predict Pineda will have a big season as well as a be a big impact on this team. This is all, of course, as long as he is not injured. The Yankees should make sure he has no arm issues and once that is settled, give him a chance to pitch. Spring training stats are overrated, especially when it comes to the New York teams. As everybody now has access to by-the-minute stats, they are micromanaged to a point where it has become an overkill. Several pitchers, such as Roy Halliday, Tim Lincecum, Josh Beckett and Johan Santana (before his operation) have been known to struggle in spring training. I understand the Yankees gave up top prospect Jesus Montero for Pineda and want to protect their investment, but sometimes the best way to right this is to simply let him pitch. He should start the season in the rotation, as long as his arm is healthy. If not, the Yankees may not get to know if he can pitch as well as he did for the better part of the 2011 season. And that may be a shame.