On Friday, the Yankees announced that Michael Pineda has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and that, though he’ll seek a second opinion, the recommendation is Tommy John surgery. This news comes at a bad time for the Yankees, who have been reeling since mid-June, losing 18 of their past 25 games. Their pitching staff — the starting rotation but especially the bullpen — is already feeling the effects of overuse. With Pineda more than likely out for the season, the team will need to find a suitable replacement for the rotation.
Before the news about Pineda’s injury was revealed, the team had announced their starters for their four-game series this weekend in Boston and both Pineda and CC Sabathia were omitted. Some speculated that maybe one or both players were injured because the Yankees also brought up lefty pitcher Jordan Montgomery, who was sent down to the minors before the All-Star break and wasn’t supposed to come back up to New York so soon. Brian Mitchell is starting the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader with Masahiro Tanaka starting on Sunday night.
Mitchell, a righty who has made the trip back and forth from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx 11 times, will take Pineda’s place in the rotation this weekend, but he is more than likely not the long-term solution for the Yankees.
A patchwork starting rotation is not ideal for a team that claims to have playoff expectations in 2017. Pineda could be moved to the 60-day DL and the Yankees could look to other minor leaguers to take his place for the time being. That is what they have done after every other injury this season, so why change now?
One option for general manager Brian Cashman could be to move Pineda to the 60-day DL and bring up Chance Adams from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Cashman told reporters that 22-year-old righty Chance Adams could be a possibility for the rotation and that Luis Cessa will make a start in Minnesota.
Beyond that, another option is for Cashman to explore the trade market, but that might not work for the Yankees. Trading for a starting pitcher could cost the Yankees a lot, as seen by the deal the Cubs and White Sox made on Thursday for starter Jose Quintana. After the moves New York made to get younger around last year’s trade deadline, a deal now could be seen as a desperate and short-sighted to trade away those same chips.
Regardless, decisions will have to be made, and they won’t be easy, but nothing has been easy for the Yankees the past month as they’ve dealt with injury after injury with each one getting worse and worse.
As for Pineda, this is his walk year. He was signed through 2017 and is a free agent after the season, so Yankees fans have likely seen the last of him in pinstripes. His time in New York started on a rough note when he suffered a torn labrum in his first season as a Yankee and it has been a bit of a bumpy ride the rest of way.
It’s unfortunate, yet fitting, that his Yankee career likely has ended the way it has.
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