Michael Pineda Headed To the DL: When Will the Yankees Pitcher Return?

Wednesday April 4th, 2012

Sam Evans: If you haven’t heard by now, the Yankees have placed Michael Pineda on the 15 day DL to begin the season. The reports of Pineda’s velocity being down started spreading at the beginning of Spring Training and now I guess we know why Pineda wasn’t throwing as hard. Let’s take a look at Pineda’s injury and the effect it will have on the Yankees.

When I first heard reports of Pineda’s velocity being down, I assumed Pineda was just working on something, and I though people were overreacting. After Pineda wasn’t up to his normal velocity a couple of starts later, I began to wonder if something was seriously wrong with Pineda. Various people around baseball began suggesting the Yankees start Pineda in Triple-A for his first couple starts until he got his velocity back. Then, Pineda actually started throwing harder.

On March 25th, Pineda had his finest start of the spring. He threw eight-seven pitches in five innings, while allowing only one run. The best part about that start was that his fastball was apparently touching 94 MPH. Compared to Pineda’s 90 MPH fastballs from earlier this spring, this start suggested Pineda was starting to return to normal. Five days later, Pineda mysteriously exited a start after only two innings. After the game, he was reportedly talking about stiffness in his right shoulder.

Two days after Pineda reported shoulder stiffness, the Yankees placed him on the 15-day DL. Apparently an MRI showed that he has right shoulder tendonitis, and manager Joe Girardi and the Yankees wanted to play it safe.

It’s not like this is Pineda’s first major injury. Back in 2009, Pineda threw less than fifty minor league innings due to an elbow strain. Still, from 2010-2011, Pineda was the workhorse pitcher that his large frame suggests he should be. Obviously the Yankees knew about Pineda’s previous elbow problems when they made the trade, but no previous elbow issues could necessarily be a precursor to current elbow woes.

I’m not trying to pretend that I’m a doctor or even that it didn’t take me three tries to spell tendonitis. But on the surface, Pineda’s injury sounds bad. Anytime you have a pitcher who is experiencing shoulder or arm issues, there’s no reason for them to be rushed back from their injury. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw Pineda sometime in May. But I could see Pineda staying on the DL until the All-Star break depending on the recovery that he shows.

Now with Pineda out, the Yankees rotation just got a lot weaker. Ivan Nova has looked terrible this spring, and he called his last start one of the worst days of his life. Freddy Garcia has been solid so far this spring, but according to his peripherals from last year, he is due for some regression. Andy Pettitte is an interesting option, but he hasn’t pitched since 2010.

The reality is though that the Yankees will be just fine without Pineda. Their offense is dominant and their bullpen is still solid. However, every game counts… so the sooner they have Pineda pitching every fifth day- the better. Hopefully, Pineda’s shoulder isn’t a major issue, and we’ll see him on the mound in New York soon.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on April 4, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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