Michael Pineda started for the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, tonight, and pitched six scoreless innings while allowing two hits and picking up four strikeouts. Tonight's start was the third that Pineda has made while attempting to return from labrum surgery over a year ago. Pineda issued two walks and threw 77 pitches, 52 of them for strikes. The right-hander has now allowed only one earned run in his 14.1 innings in three rehab appearances so far.
If you are on the Pineda velocity watch, he was hitting 92-94 mph on the stadium gun. His velocity was up a bit in the middle innings, hitting as high as 95 mph, before dropping off a bit at the end of his outing. Since he began his rehab appearances, the velocity has steadily been improving. He started out in the low-90s range and now sits more in the mid-90s with his fastball. He's still in the process of building back up arm strength after such a long layoff, so there is reason to be optimistic that he can get back to something close to the velocity he had when he was still pitching for the Mariners.
So many pitchers are never the same after returning from labrum surgery, and so far, it seems as though Pineda has made it through the worst of it as well as anyone could hope for. He could be a huge boost for the major league team in the second half of the season if they feel like he is ready to be brought all the way back to the majors once his rehab is complete.
Pineda been up to 94-95 in later feames— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 26, 2013
Back down to 91-93 in the sixth. #pinedamania— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 26, 2013
According to Brian Cashman, Pineda should be making one more rehab start before he is either sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre indefinitely, or brought up to the major league level. A lot of praise was coming down the Twitter pipeline about how Pineda was doing, including these encouraging tweets from a scout and Thunder beat writer Josh Norris (some NSFW language in that last tweet, for the record).
Scout who saw Pineda tonight said delivery looked "free and easy," and he missed bats with FB and change. Breaking ball a tad behind.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) June 26, 2013
Everything that has been said has been extremely positive about Pineda, which couldn't be more encouraging considering the surgery that he required. It's been said so many times already, but the Yankees really dodged a bullet with his injury and seem to be getting back something very close to the pitcher they traded their top prospect for.
You can watch Pineda's post-game press conference here, thanks to Thunder beat writer Mike Ashmore. There is also video of his start here, courtesy of Thunder beat writer Josh Norris.