There was some debate at the start of the season over who would be the Yankees real ace. Would it be Masahiro Tanaka or Michael Pineda. 32 games into the season and there really isn’t much of a debate now, it is safe to say it’s Big Mike.
Today’s 16 strikeout performance was just another notch on pole for Pineda. He recorded 21 outs and 16 of them were strikeouts. Today, his seventh start of the year, Pineda is now 5-0 and clearly defines him as the ace of the staff. The 6-7″ right-hander now has a 2.72 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a scary major league leading 18.00 K/BB ratio. That breaks down to another league leading line of 54 strikeouts to 3 walks over 46.1 innings pitched.
But the impressive numbers don’t stop there. His 10.49 K/9 is good for third in the league, his WHIP puts him at seventh, and his ERA places him in the top 15. For you WAR loving fans, Pineda is now the league leader in wins above replacement for qualified pitchers at 1.9. Some more advanced metrics to look at would be Pineda’s 1.94 FIP and MLB best 2.05 DIPS (defense independent pitching statistics) which is similar to a batters BABIP.
I can keep listing every metric and every basic stat line that Big Mike is currently rocking, but the simple eye test can show you that Pineda is a flat out dominate pitcher right now. It might be early on, but no doubt is he a Cy Young candidate if healthy all year. But as we can see in the video below, chronicling all 16 strikeouts, Pineda was just filthy Sunday.
Sunday’s 16 strikeout outing, which was two shy of the Yankees club record (18K by Ron Guidry) and only the fourth time a 16+ outing has occurred in Yankees history.
Pineda made it extra special by not recording one walk, only the second time a pitcher has accomplished such a feat. Johan Santana did the same on August 19, 2007.
Out of all the 16 strikeout performance in the last 100 years of baseball, Pineda is the only pitcher to hit 16Ks in 7 innings. The breakdown of Pineda’s 16Ks, he recorded 4 called strikes, 12 swinging strikes (1 foul tip strike). Thru seven innings Pineda reached a career high 111 pitches. Skipper Joe Girardi said post game he was unaware that Pineda was closing in on the club record, but had no intention of trotting him back out for the 8th inning, “he is coming back from injury and it’s very early in the season” said Girardi.
Pineda said after the first slider thrown, he knew he was locked in. He wasn’t lying either, his slider got 12/28.6% Whiff rate while being thrown for strikes 83.3% of the time. He totaled 81 strikes out of 111 pitches. For the 2015 campaign, more than 50% of his outs have come via strikeout.
As of right now Michael Pineda might be the best pitcher in baseball. It would be hard to argue otherwise after yesterday’s performance.