The Michael Pineda experience, this roller coaster performance of several riders on base but relatively little crossing the plate, packed after one last adventure on Wednesday, has headed for an offseason that is just as mysterious as its last three.
After 2018, a season spent with rehab specialists and minor leaguers, Pineda was the unknown twin, his ability to bounce back from surgery in question. The 2019 season ended with Pineda under suspension but not under contract, a failed PED test marred an encouraging comeback as he made his way to free agency. Pineda only pitched 26 2/3 innings in 2020, with the suspension limiting an already shortened season.
What now, having worked his way through forearm and oblique injuries to become the last standing pitcher of the Twins’ opening day rotation?
“He’s been a mainstay in our clubhouse,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of the 32-year-old right-hander. “He’s been about as important a member of this group for the past three years as anyone else.”
Maybe, but free agency is looming again, and even though the twins couldn’t find any interested buyers by the July trade deadline, Pineda responded with a month of wage hikes that should attract l ‘Warning. Since recovering from his oblique injury and returning to the Twins in early September, Pineda has won five straight games, posted a 1.85 ERA, allowed just two homers and added a veteran stability note to a starting staff almost completely inexperienced in the big leagues.
The dispersed crowd of 17,254 at Target Field stood up and cheered as he left the field in the sixth inning. If it was a farewell, it was a farewell.
“I love the Minnesota Twins and I love the city, but I have no control over it,” Pineda said. “I would be happy.… If I had the opportunity to be back, I would be happy.”
Looks like Baldelli would be too, and not just because of the pitching of the punches.
“The leadership has been a constant, and so has his personality. What matters,” said the manager. “He’s a good competitor when he’s on the pitch, and he’s a guy who gives us a really good tone.”
He is also a master of the art of getting out of trouble. Despite allowing the team’s second-most number of hits, his 3.62 ERA is his career best in a full season since 2014.
Pineda proved it again on several occasions when he left against the Tigers on Wednesday, allowing two singles to start the second inning, then inducing a double ball, his seventh of the season, from Eric Haase and a Niko Goodrum roster. to post another scoreless round. Three innings later, a starting double and a single with one out put him in trouble again, but Pineda had former Twins teammate Jonathan Schoop and Robbie Grossman withdrawn from the line-up, leaving the Tigers frustrated, and the fans appreciate it.
Pineda is proud of his season, but disappointed with that of his team. “I feel pretty good because I work hard for every time they give me the ball to do my job,” said the veteran right-hander, who has never pitched in a playoff game. “But at the same time, I feel a little sad because we want to be in the playoffs.”
As his Minnesota career has shown, re-signing Pineda, who has earned $ 10 million this season, would not be without risk, especially as he approaches his mid-30s. But the manager made it clear that it was a risk he would like the Twins to take.
“Hopefully this isn’t the last time we’re going to take him out of a football match in Twins’ uniform, but it was definitely a great way to end his season,” said Baldelli. “I would love for Mike to come back here. But Big Mike is going to have to do what’s best for him and his career.”