Astros Had Scouts Watching Michael Pineda Pitch Last Night

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Apr 6, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /
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Are the Astros targeting Michael Pineda?

Just when you convince yourself that the Houston Astros will not make a trade at the deadline, something changes. I feel that unless they go after an ace pitcher or a left-handed reliever, they will stand pat. But last night I wrote that the Astros could be targeting either Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. However, maybe I was off about who the Astros were targeting, maybe they are after a Yankee starting pitcher instead?

According to Chris Cotillo, the Astros had some representatives/scouts out to Wednesday night’s game to watch the Yankees play. While the Astros could have been there to watch Miller and Chapman for when they came into the game. Michael Pineda was pitching for the Yankees. Pineda probably pitched his best game of the season, in front of what Catillo called tons of scouts.

If the Astros get Pineda, he is a power pitcher, most likely an upgrade over Mike Fiers. But is he a playoff rotation caliber pitcher? With the rotation the Astros currently have, I don’t see them trading for a 4th or 5th starter. Let’s say Dallas Keuchel is the number one, Lance McCullers is the second starter, and Doug Fister has pitched like a third starter this season. Collin McHugh started the season as the second starter, but he hasn’t lived up to his 19-win season last year.

This leaves Fiers as the fifth pitcher at the moment, but he has been unreliable recently going five innings or more. Scott Feldman could slide into the rotation at any minute, with Fiers going to the bullpen to work on things that make him effective. Pineda would probably be an upgrade over Fiers and McHugh, but I see him at best as a 4th pitcher. Last night, Pineda pitched six scoreless innings giving up five hits while striking out eight hitters. That performance could rate him as a third starter or higher, but his 5.25 ERA tells a different story. 

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On the season, Pineda is 4-9 with 127 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings pitched. He has given up 18 homers this season, already approaching the career high of 21 that he allowed in 2015. Pineda also allows about 2.45 walks per nine innings pitched. He throws a power fastball averaging 94 mph, but also throws a hard change up (88.2 mph) and slider (86 mph). Pineda could struggle because there is not a big difference in the speed of what he throws.

Pineda is entering his final year of being arbitration eligible, and he will be a free agent after the 2017 season. If the Astros traded for him, he would be more than just a rental, but he has struggled to stay healthy in his career. What would it take to get him, I’m thinking a package of David Paulino, Derek Fisher, and possibly Preston Tucker or Brady Rodgers to get Pineda (just an example).

Related Story: Astros: Are Yankees Chapman and Miller Trade Targets?

It will be interesting to see if this type of trade happens because it’s a little riskier than Jeff Luhnow likes. He would trade for a player, but it needs to be a player guaranteed to help. Last season’s trades could make him a little gun-shy. If the scouts were there to see Miller and Chapman pitch, wouldn’t the Yankees have pitched them no matter the game situation? I don’t see this trade going through.

***Stats from Fangraphs and Contract info from Baseball-Reference***

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