Not that we necessarily need to care so much about these things, but the situation is the situation. For a time, Pineda was looking good. He was with the team from the beginning of the season, and he carried a mid-2s ERA into his 18th start on July 9th. But since then he's allowed 40 runs in 59 innings to lift his ERA to the upper 3s, and as a result I think he's fallen behind. Further behind than he can make up for in his final start tonight.
Fallen behind who, exactly? Some of the following. The AL isn't exactly starved for quality rookies:
- Jeremy Hellickson
- Ivan Nova
- Jordan Walden
- Eric Hosmer
- Mark Trumbo
- J.P. Arencibia
Not counting guys like Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings and Brett Lawrie, due to playing time.
Buster Olney implied in a tweet that, to him, the AL ROY race comes down to Nova and Hellickson, and I wouldn't be surprised if things went that way. Hellickson is 13-10 over 27 starts with the Rays, with a 2.91 ERA. Nova is 16-4 over 26 starts with the Yankees, with a 3.62 ERA. Pineda, meanwhile, is at 9-10 and 3.72. I assume that the voters will select one of the arms from the AL East.
Which isn't to say that that's the way things ought to be. Pineda's FIP is way better than Nova's. It's double-way better than Hellickson's. Over a similar number of starts, Pineda has four fewer walks and 76 more strikeouts than Nova, and ten fewer walks and 58 more strikeouts than Hellickson. Pineda has easily been the best pitcher of the three, with the differences coming down to defense and run support.
But the voting is done by the BBWAA, and while the BBWAA is becoming more enlightened and more open to statistical analysis by the day, I would be floored if they selected Pineda over two guys in the AL East with better records and (currently) better ERAs. That seems to me like it would be too much of a leap.
What does it matter? It doesn't matter much. Pineda's been awesome. He's been with the team all season, and he went to the All-Star Game. He's almost certainly going to finish with more strikeouts than innings. It's not like anybody needs the validation that Pineda was a successful rookie, and it's not like winning the ROY necessarily provides that validation in the first place. Jeremy Hellickson owns the fourth-worst xFIP in baseball among qualified starters.
But Pineda winning the Rookie of the Year would be neat, so the probability that he won't robs us of something that would be neat. Damn you, writers!