The Yankees could soon be adding more depth to their starting rotation with Michael Pineda having begun his rehab assignment earlier in the week. For a team who has dealt with one injury after another, it seems they are finally getting some good news as Pineda could prove to be a crucial piece for the Yankees this season.
Pineda, was acquired by the Yankees two years ago when the Yankees traded catching prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. He quickly went down with a shoulder injury during his first spring training with the club and has been working his way back for the past year and a half. On Sunday, Pineda made his first rehab start in Tampa and the Yankees were very pleased with what they saw.
He went 4 1/3 innings throwing a total of 68 pitches. Scouts had him clocked up to 95 mph on his fastball, which is a very good sign this early in his rehab. His control was on point as 42 of his pitches were thrown for strikes. The Yankees have stated they plan on having him throw six rehab starts before deciding what to do with him. For his first three outings he will be allowed to just throw as he gets accustomed to pitching in real games again. His next three will be watched closely for fine tuning, to see if he has returned back to his all-star form of 2011.
Starting pitching has been a strong point for the Yankees this year, but you can never have enough pitching. The emergence of Pineda will be an interesting to follow as the season goes on. With aging starters such of Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda in the rotation, there is no telling what their durability may be. Besides that, the Yankees might be in the market for a bat come the trading deadline and could use one of their starters as trade bait to acquire one, allowing Pineda to slide into the rotation.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Phil Hughes become expendable if Pineda continues to progress, and the rest of the rotation stays healthy. It is all but assumed the Yankees will allow Hughes to walk at the end of the season, so it would make sense to see what they can get for him at the deadline. Pineda, would not be a trading chip as he is only 24 years old and under Yankee control for a reasonable price the next few seasons. He is the type of pitcher the Yankees would like to build around for years to come.
Brian Cashman has said he hopes Pineda can one day become his “right-handed version of CC”, I’m not sure Pineda will ever amount to that caliber, but this could ultimately prove to be one of Cashman’s better moves as the Yankees GM.