10 ‘Ifs’ That Can Turn The 2017 New York Yankees Into Champions

5. If … Michael Pineda Figures Himself Out

Michael Pineda is an unimaginable enigma that not only makes everyone scratch their head but it also something that has never been seen in baseball.

Big Mike is the only starting pitcher in major league history to give up 25+ homers while maintaining an era over 4.80, a K/9 rate of 10+, and also striking out 200 or more batters.

So, while Larry Rothschild hasn’t “fixed” this seemingly unfixable problem Pineda has, there is no mechanical issue Rothschild can alter for the better. It comes down to his confidence. Like you said, Mike, this guy has the stuff. It’s evident in his AL-leading 10.6 K/9 and career 1.174 WHIP.

Pineda has to be able to attack batters early and get ahead. When he’s ahead in the account, batters are hitting .184 with just four homers and an OPS of .487 but when he falls behind, those numbers jump to .344 with 10 homers and a 1.140 OPS.

While that’s a general trend across baseball, batters are also swinging at Pineda’s first pitch 43% of the time and are slashing .291/.300/.550 compared to .254/.331/.421 when they took the first pitch.

Again, that’s fixed by trust in your stuff and being able to pitch to your strengths. His wipeout slider is easily the greatest pitch in his arsenal while his fastball gets hit out of the park on almost a nightly basis.

If he can get that trust and transform himself into that pitcher we all know he could be, then New York has a Cy Young dark horse on their hands for the 2017 season.