Even without a clear replacement, Michael Pineda shouldn't be in the Yankees' rotation right now. His struggles have continued, and his ability to keep early runs off the board has not improved. Pineda has pitched quality starts in just two games this year, and he's given up five or more runs in five starts. Enough is enough.
The Yankees have an option remaining on Pineda, and it is time to use it. Whether or not the team has the talent to make a run at the postseason or not, Pineda struggling to this extent is doing more harm than good. Maybe Luis Cessa and Chad Green aren't fantastic replacement options, and clearly the Yankees don't feel like Luis Severino is ready to return to the big league rotation after his pre-injury struggles, but Pineda surely isn't the answer right now either.
Pineda has only lowered his extremely high ERA five times this year. He needed to only be slightly better than the 6+ ERA pitcher he had been for it to come down, and he wasn't even able to do that. His most recent start against the Rays was his shortest of the year, lasting just 3.2 innings before being pulled after six earned runs.
Michael Kay and David Cone discussed the potential of sending Pineda down to Triple-A during Monday's game against the Blue Jays. Their theory was that Pineda wouldn't be able to emotionally handle the demotion. It isn't the first time that Pineda's mental fortitude has been called into question this season. It has been said that he tends to pout when the game starts to get away from him which only allows things to unravel even more.
The Yankees shouldn't be more concerned about whether or not Pineda will fall apart because of a demotion than doing what is best for the team. Pineda's attitude seems to need a bit of work anyway, judging by the way he stares down his teammates who he has deemed to have not made a good enough play on a rocket hit he allowed. That needs to stop.
Will a trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre fix those kind of attitude issues? Who knows, but the team shouldn't be too worried to try when it is clearly what is best right now. If Pineda is going to have a meltdown over being sent down when his ERA currently hovers dangerously close to 7, well, what is really being lost?
Giving a guy like Cessa or Green, who has had success at Triple-A, a shot isn't a perfect solution. There is no great pitching prospect knocking on the door to take Pineda's place, but that doesn't mean that there isn't room for action. Joe Girardi seemed to downplay Cessa's abilities by questioning how much velocity he'd have in the rotation vs out of the bullpen. That's certainly something to think about, but the alternative is just waiting on Pineda to figure it out.
Pineda may find a way to return to the form that saw him pitch brilliantly against the Orioles on Mother's Day last year, or we may be stuck with the frustration that is early runs and short starts for the remainder of his Yankee career. Whichever outcome turns out to be reality, sending him down to Triple-A is the right move for now. Maybe it won't cure him of whatever is going on pitching-wise, but hopefully it will at least fix the attitude issues that make watching him struggle all that much more frustrating for everyone else.