We’ve all had pretty mixed opinions over Michael Pineda this year. From the now irrelevant the pine tar incident, to multiple injury setbacks, Pineda has been a question mark since putting on the pinstripes. Monday the Yankees announced that he would start Wednesday. “We feel he’s ready now. It’s nice,” said manager Joe Girardi. The only question is can he handle the big pressure game in his first start in over three months?
Pineda deemed himself healthy and ready to pitch right after his rehab outing Friday, but Girardi was hesitant to say anything regarding the rotation right away. Then Monday rolls around and the team decided he was ready and they needed his arm. “We wanted to make sure that he was ready,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said via NJ.com “That we felt he was ready and he felt he was ready. You always try to give him plenty of time to get ready and you err on the cautious side. So if he felt he needed another (rehab start) or we felt like he needed another one, that was built-in. But we feel he’s ready now.”
The only issue is can he get through enough innings to even be helpful. Yankee starters are having a hard time going deep into games, thus taxing the bullpen day in and day out. If you break it down it’s pretty simple, Pineda just doesn’t have enough innings under his belt. His first rehab start he threw 58 pitches, and in his second start he threw 72 pitches. In that final start, he pitched 4.1 innings, gave up one run and struck out six. Yes he looked good, but does he have necessary innings under his belt? Sure the Yankees can push him to 85-90 pitches today, and we can expect Girardi to be extra cautious against the dangerous Orioles offense, but will he be able to get through five to six innings? It might be unlikely he goes that deep but not impossible, especially if he pitches like he did 86 games ago. Either way Esmil Rogers will be ready and waiting if Pineda gets into trouble early.
The other thought process is the Yankees could have easily let him throw one more rehab outing, get his pitch count up and have him comfortably stretched out. After that they could ease him back into the rotation next week against the much less threatening Houston Astros at home. But with season on the line the Yankees are going to push the envelope today and give Pineda the ball. For those of you that are wondering if he will covered in pine tar today he answered the question Monday with an emphatic “No”.