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May 24, 2013
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The Thursday Takeaway
Remember when, after Pineda exhibited diminished velocity and was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, it seemed as though the Mariners might emerge as the clear victors in the trade? Well, a year-plus of below-replacement-level work from Montero may have tilted the scales back toward the Yankees, who on Thursday also received positive news about the recovery of the 24-year-old pitcher they so highly coveted two offseasons ago.
Pineda has been pitching in extended spring training games, and, according to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, a minor-league rehab assignment is on the horizon. If all goes well, that could put Pineda on track to return to the Yankees sometime during the second half of this season. And, considering that reports from earlier this month had Pineda touching the mid-90s with his fastball, it seems entirely plausible that he will contribute more to the Yankees’ cause this year than Montero will give to the Mariners.
The other two players involved in the trade—Hector Noesi, who went from New York to Seattle, and Jose Campos, who headed east with Pineda—have thus far been nonfactors. Noesi served up 21 homers in 106 2/3 innings last year, en route to a 5.82 ERA, and though he has fared better in limited action in 2013, he’s not likely to ever be more than a back-end starter or swingman. Campos, a highly-regarded prospect in the Mariners system at the time of the swap, spent most of the 2012 season on the shelf and is now getting his first full-season taste of full-season ball at age 20.
So, who wins what once was billed as a win-win trade?
The Mariners were winning last year. The Yankees, at least based on Thursday’s news and Campos’ return to the mound, are winning now. As for the eventual, long-term winner—that remains anyone’s guess.
Matchup of the Day
As a result, the 27-year-old’s ERA has climbed from 1.57 to 3.02, and he’s fortunate that it hasn’t climbed much further, because his FIP stands at 4.55. Medlen, who would have been a strong Cy Young Award contender had he sustained his summertime surge over a full season, has been a replacement-level arm over his first nine outings this spring. His next assignment comes this evening at Citi Field, where he has posted a 1.37 ERA over 19 2/3 career innings, in part because of his success in shutting down David Wright.
The Mets third baseman was among the many players impressed by Medlen’s remarkable run last year, as he went 2-for-9 with five strikeouts in their 2012 encounters. Overall, Wright is 2-for-16 versus Medlen with two walks and seven strikeouts, and since both of the hits were singles, his triple-slash line is a mediocre .125/.222/.125.
So far this year, Wright has essentially been the same hitter (.293/.395/.490) that he was last year (.306/.391/.492). He excels at punishing middle-of-the-zone fastballs, regardless of height, and though he absolutely pummels left-handed pitching (.337 career TAv), he’s no slouch against righties (.294), either.
So, what has Medlen done to keep Wright on his heels? Nothing fancy, really—just the same sequencing and command that worked wonders for him throughout 2012. In this strikeout on April 17, Medlen benefited from an expanded strike zone, but made an excellent fifth-pitch changeup, set up by a spate of sinkers. In this one on August 11, he worked the outside edge with sinkers, before surprising Wright with a curveball right down Broadway.
Medlen’s ability to hit the corners and mix his fastball, curveball, and changeup effectively led to his breakout 2012 campaign and has been critical to his success against Wright. If Medlen’s control is as erratic tonight as it has been so far this season, Wright could be poised to turn the tables (7:10 p.m. ET).
What to Watch for This Weekend