The New York Yankees have attempted to solve the Michael Pineda puzzle for years. We might have just found the ultimate solution.
Michael Pineda is much like a Rubik’s Cube and not just to the New York Yankees organization but to all of baseball. Some days he’s an ace, but then he has other days where he is a clone of 50 Cent on the mound.
The Yankees just never know what they are going to get when Pineda takes the mound and they have just been crossing their fingers each time he starts. He shows flashes of dominance and then has innings where we question why he is up at this level.
But hey, that’s just Pineda, right? There’s no solution to this 28-year-old right hander.
Ah, but what if there is an answer, right under our noses? What if the Yankees could make one minor move and possibly solve all their problems?
There is a solution and, considering the body language and struggles we’ve seen from Pineda, it may just help fix him down the road.
Big Mike may have the dominant fastball but he’s also gets deep into his own mind on the mound. He is ultimately a headcase and that’s why the Yankees should potentially consider giving him Austin Romine as his personal catcher.
Right now, Romine is the starter with Gary Sanchez out due to injury. However, when Sanchez returns, the Yankees should consider allowing Romine to work solely with Pineda.
Last season, Pineda had seven appearances when he was paired with Romine. In those seven appearances, he allowed 17 runs, which averages to about 2.4 runs per appearance. On those days where Romine was behind the plate, Pineda only allowed three home runs to opponents.
While a small sample size, the stats still have to mean something. Even during his last start, he faced the same lineup as the first time and dominated them easily. Romine was behind the plate during his 7.2 inning, 11 strikeout performance.
RECAP: #Yankees take home opener behind Pineda's 11 strikeouts. https://t.co/SeJpKghB1v pic.twitter.com/vVZQH04DcZ
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 10, 2017
With Sanchez being the other catcher, Pineda pitched to him in 10 appearances last season. During those games, Pineda allowed 24 runs and seven home runs to his opponents.
Even as we saw in his second start of the season, Romine seems to have a great chemistry with Pineda. The mound visits allowed Pineda to relax as opposed to tensing up like he often does with two outs.
Even more impressive? Last season when Romine worked with Pineda, big Mike had only one out of seven starts where he pitched less than six innings. With Sanchez last year, Pineda had eight starts under six innings.
Maybe he’s just having a good day every time Romine is behind the dish but there are too many numbers to ignore. It seems that Pineda feels comfortable and lasts longer when he’s relying on Romine behind the plate.
That’s nothing against Sanchez, who arguably is one of the best defensive catchers in the game right now. The comfort level just seems to be there with Romine and if that works for Pineda, why not try it more often?
In 1999, Andy Pettitte relied on Joe Girardi behind the plate. Mike Mussina was notorious for relying on personal catchers, including Wil Nieves in 2007 and Jose Molina in 2008. It is a practice that’s been a part of the league for years and it’s about time they give it a try with Pineda.
Pineda has all the potential to be an ace and we’ve seen bits of his talent over the years. It would be a shame to let go of a possible Cy Young Award winner simply because they are unwilling to try something different for him.
The stats are there. Although they are based off of small sample sizes, fans have to admit that they loved what they saw from him in his second start of the season. Romine played a big role in helping him settle in and get the job done.
It’s early enough in the season that things can change on a dime. However, it would be worth a shot to give the Pineda-Romine combination a chance.
Michael Pineda has been a problem but Austin Romine might just be the solution. Isn’t that worth a look into?