In the midst of all the trade deadline madness, an important news item for the Yankees came out a few days ago. Michael Pineda pitched a simulated game for the first time on Tuesday, able to throw 45 pitches without any pain. By most accounts, he looked strong and ready to take the next step.
Pineda made big news early in the season, both good and bad. His first three starts were stellar, allowing only two runs in total for a 1.00 ERA, a 7.5 K/9, and holding the opposition to a .239 batting average. His only loss was his first start, when the Yankees were shut out. He was dominant, and exactly what the Yankees needed. Then came the infamous incident where pine tar was found on his neck, and that was the last time he was on an MLB pitching mound. During his suspension, he injured himself in a simulated game. He has been on the 60-day DL ever since.
His next stop is going to be in a minor-league game, where the expectation is that he’ll be able to throw 60 pitches without discomfort and without fatigue. Building his strength up will be the priority, but the Yankees are hopeful for a return in the middle of August. That suggests anywhere from 3 to 4 minor league starts, with positive results.
With the Yankees pitching rotation being cobbled together through trades (Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano) and rookies (Chase Whitley, David Phelps), the Yankees desperately need Pineda to return to form. The Yankees are still in the hunt, and getting one of their starters back in the middle of the playoff hunt will be crucial. Who knows how this will turn out, but it sure is going to get interesting.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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