The New York Yankees are in trouble. Their veterans look washed up and their young guns are failing to fire. The 2016 season is practically halfway over, and the Yankees are still lingering around .500, making a postseason run unlikely.
The 2016 season was also a crucial one for the the development of starting pitchers Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi. Both pitchers, 27 and 26 years old respectively, are free agents to be following the 2017 season.
But as Pineda and Eovaldi have struggled with consistency yet again this year, is it in the Yankees’ best interest to re-sign their two young starters next year?
Yankee fans have been clamoring for the Yankees to sign Pineda and Eovaldi to contract extensions following this season. The Yankees for years have had an aging rotation, so the chance to lock up two young starters for the primes of their careers looks intriguing.
Until you realize that the two young starters are Pineda and Eovaldi.
While Pineda and Eovaldi have overall been successful as Yankees, they are far too inconsistent to warrant any type of long-term investment. Pineda’s rate stats with the Yankees are misleading: a 4.03 ERA, a 3.33 FIP, and a 1.17 WHIP look good, but Big Mike’s more traditional statistics are lacking: a 20-22 record, 1.1 home runs per 9 innings, lengthy DL stints, and a 101 ERA+ (a way to measure pitchers where 100 is league average).
And while Eovaldi’s stats look worse than they actually are due to his recent downward spiral, they are what they are nonetheless: he has gone 20-9 over two years with the Yankees, but has posted a lackluster 4.70 ERA , 4.05 FIP, and 88 ERA+, and also allowed 10.1 hits per 9 innings and 1.1 home runs per 9 innings.
When you see just the numbers of those pitchers, the decision is easy to make: the Yankees don’t need to extend the essentially league-average Pineda and Eovaldi.
However, baseball is much more than just a numbers game, and seeing the electric stuff that Pineda and Eovaldi have and the runs that they can go on often make Yankee fans excited and hopeful for more.
Pineda is a perfect pitcher on paper. He is a big, powerful, horse that can throw 95 mph on his fastball and features a wipeout slider. However, Pineda’s stint in New York has been marred by injuries and inconsistency.
Pineda had no confidence earlier this year. He allowed 5 or more earned runs in 5 of his first 10 starts and was nearly demoted to the minors. But the month of June has been entirely different for Big Mike.
Pineda has lowered his season ERA from 6.92 all the way to 5.24 in one month. He has yet to post a clunker and has done it in style, striking out 12.24 batters per 9 innings. Yankee fans have seen this Pineda for the last month-plus and are hopeful that he has finally turned the corner.
But history tells us that while Pineda will likely not sink back to a 6.92 ERA, he is also not likely to continue with this sudden rebirth. Pineda is probably a pitcher close to his career numbers with the Yankees: a league-average but inconsistent hurler that constantly teases but never delivers.
The same can be said of Eovaldi. In fact, while Pineda was busy struggling, Eovaldi was having a banner month of May, posting a 3.25 ERA and looking a future building block.
But then the calendar flipped to June and Eovaldi lost his nerve, allowing at least 5 earned runs to teams such as the Angels, Rockies, Twins (twice), and Padres, teams not known for their offensive prowess.
Is Eovaldi hurt, or is this just another Eovaldi-esque ebb, one that Yankee fans have grown all-too accustomed to? Much like Pineda, this is just par for the course with Eovaldi.
How much is a pitcher with a .500 record, a 4.20 ERA, and sky-high potential worth on the open market? Probably a lot more than he actually deserves. While it would hurt to lose both Pineda and Eovaldi, 40% of the Yankee rotation, after next season, they simply have not shown the consistency needed to earn a lengthy contract extension.
Thus, with the trade deadline fast approaching and the Yankees barely clinging to life in the Wild Card race, they may want to consider putting Pineda and Eovaldi on the block. If there’s one consistent thing about Pineda and Eovaldi, it’s their inconsistency, which is not something that the Yankees have room to deal with right now.
Despite their vast stuff and potential, the bottom line is that the Yankees are not regularly winning games started by Pineda and Eovaldi, which could spark a change sooner rather than later.