Michael Pineda made his first rehab outing today after being placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain on July 30th. Pineda pitched three innings against the Reading Fightin' Phils, the Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The lineup he faced included top prospects J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams, and both of them notched triples. Crawford's was partially a result of a misplay by left fielder Danny Oh, while Williams' was a laser shot to center field. Despite those two hits, Pineda did well. He threw 42 pitches in his outing, surrendering two runs on a total of four hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter. Following the completion of his three innings, Pineda threw three more pitches in the bullpen to reach his prescribed total of 45.
"I felt pretty good today," Pineda said to the assembled media following the outing. The big right-hander said he was trying to primarily work on his command and establish his pitches. He said that at this stage in his rehab, he feels "more confident in his fastball" than his other pitches. "I feel like [the fastball] is normal, and I need to work on my slider and my changeup." Pineda worked mostly in the low 90's with the fastball, topping out at 96 MPH on a pitch that Williams banged against the center field wall for his booming triple. At one point, the scoreboard flashed a whopping 99 MPH, but Pineda laughed when asked about the likely misreading by the radar gun. "I don't know what my velocity was today, but it wasn't 99 [MPH]." In addition to the heater, Pineda said that he threw "a lot of changeups" to try to reestablish his command of the pitch.
There is no immediate plan for the progression of Pineda's rehab assignment, but it is likely that he will make at least one, if not two, more starts to stretch him back out to 90-100 pitches. He should be ready in time to assist the Yankees down the stretch toward the playoffs, at which time the team will have to decide how to fit him into the rotation. Luis Severino has shown that he is capable of being a big league starter, and CC Sabathia has partially righted the ship of late. It will remain to be seen if that is still the case by the time Pineda is ready. Regardless of how he is put back into the rotation, Pineda will be an asset for the Yankees as they look to fend off the Blue Jays.
Nicolas Stellini is a staff writer at Pinstripe Alley, where he writes about the Yankees and covers the Double-A Trenton Thunder. His national coverage can be found at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.