So yesterday, as he walked out for the 7th, every crank believer and hard-line cynic across the Yankiverse had to be pondering the same unponderable thought:
What if stink bomb Pineda actually throws a perfect game?
This wouldn't just be transformative. It would be apocalyptic. An opening day like no other in Yankee history... a game to enter the pantheon of great memories... to justify Pineda's last five crapola years... to end forever the nasty comparisons to Jesus Montero... and to - gulp - cement his future in New York?
Nah. No way. That didn't happen, thanks to the wise juju of Yankee fan Martha Stewart, winner of the first IT IS HIGH IBS Lady Fan of the Week Award for Explosive Guidance Under Pressure. Watching from somewhere, probably over a rising souffle, Martha coldly studied the long term implications of an Opening Day perfecto by Pineda, and exercised her celebrity juju veto. She tweeted about the perfect game, unleashing the kind of hell storm juju that only a former talk show hostess can generate. In doing so, she may have saved the Yankees from a 5 to 10-year deal, which would involve more money than she paid in legal fees for a monogrammed electronic ankle bracelet. No perfect game. No moment for the ages. No long term commitment. Thank you, Martha Stewart. May the IBS Lady always ride with you.
Today, the dirty little whispers across the Yankiverse sound like this: Pssst, Cashman. Trade'm. Trade'm now, today, tonight, tomorrow, before the next outing. Get what we can, trade'm, call it a victory, and that's Chinatown, Jake. Trade'm, trade'm, trade'm...
Because here are some realities about our mysterious third starter.
1. We'll almost certainly lose him next winter. He'll be a free agent, and no matter what he does this year, there are simply too many IBS moments in his past for Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner to pony up cash to keep this guy. If Pineda pitches well, he'll want a five or seven year deal, and Cashman won't even pick up the phone. Too much water under the Tappan Zee. He's Ivan Nova Jr., and if there is one certainty about 2017, it is almost surely that this is Pineda's final year as a Yankee.
2. He probably won't make it to winter - departing at the July 31 trade deadline. In an appealing long term scenario, Pineda would fetch a boatload of young talent that can buttress the Yankee future. This team is a year, maybe two, from becoming a legitimate American League brawler. Pineda will probably never be a part of it, unless it's in the form of what we get in return.
3. He's still likely to suck. In the 7th, after Longoria broke up the no-hitter with a double, it occurred to me that if Pineda surrendered a two-run HR on the next pitch - a common trait - he would hear boos walking off the mound. Can you imagine that? Guy throws nearly seven perfect innings, but the crowd would be angry? Still, who could blame them? I don't know when we can officially declare that Pineda is a solid starter, but with this guy's track record, it doesn't happen in one day.
So what do we have? Damned if I know. From now on, let's make Austin Romine his personal catcher. And let's go bonkers if he looks dominant in the first few innings. Let's try to help him find himself. He's 28, entering his prime, and the better he pitches, the better off we'll be. But keep this in mind: Yesterday, Pineda lowered his 2017 season ERA to 3.97 - barely a whit below his career 4.03. He's been unhittable before. That's when the stink bomb goes off. So let's hold our noses and root.