Michael Pineda is still a starter in the Yankees’ eyes, but he could be a valuable piece out of the bullpen in 2013. The organization has said from the beginning that Pineda’s use in the rotation will depend on who’s doing well and who’s not. They can of course send him to Triple-A for more refinement, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a relief role according to ESPN New York.
Putting a power arm in the bullpen would help the Yankees tremendously, as evidenced by Phil Hughes‘ success there in 2009. In 44 relief appearances that year, Hughes compiled a 1.40 ERA with 65 K’s in 51.1 innings. Sending Pineda to the ‘pen would also open up the possibility of a trade involving Joba Chamberlain, who would become expendable.
Pineda still needs to complete his rehab assignment, eventually getting up to 100 pitches. He only completed three innings and got hit hard in his last start this past Sunday. The Yankees project him to be a front-end starter, but for 2013, he could be a valuable arm in the bullpen.