Michael Pineda started the 2017 season as one of the best pitchers in the Yankees rotation. His numbers dropped off to a more Pineda-like level, but it was odd to see that he was not included among starters for New York’s four-game series in Fenway this weekend. Now we know why.
Pineda has been diagnosed with a torn UCL. The ligament is partially torn, but Tommy John surgery is still the recommendation. This almost certainly spells the end of his season. Masahiro Tanaka was able to successfully rehabilitate a partially torn UCL without surgery, but those cases seem few and far between. Pineda will get a second opinion either way.
What this means for the Yankees in the immediate future is unclear. Obviously Bryan Mitchell will take Pineda’s next turn through the rotation this weekend, but he isn’t really a strong, viable option for a team that has playoff aspirations. The trade deadline is coming up with time left for Brian Cashman to act, but the cost of a starting pitcher looks to be exorbitant.
The Yankees could opt to place Pineda on the 60-day DL, which feels inevitable anyway, and call up Chance Adams from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Adams has pitched very well, but he may not quite be ready. If the Yankees feel as though he can work on his control at the big league level it might be worth seeing what they have in him with a 40-man spot likely opening up.
With Pineda set to hit free agency at the end of the year, this very well could be the end of his Yankee career. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride since he was acquired for the team’s top prospect, Jesus Montero, years ago. The torn UCL is the second major injury Pineda has suffered as a Yankee with the first being his torn labrum in his first season with the team.
Cashman and company have a lot of decisions to make about the future of the team this season in light of this news. Perhaps the silver lining is this happening before the trade deadline instead of after. Either way, it seems the injury bug is not going away.