Michael Pineda is expected to be out until August with his injured back. He injured his lat muscle while he was suspended for using par tar in a game against the Red Sox. Before the suspension and injury, Pineda was finally living up to the hope and hype that came when the Yankees traded their top prospect, Jesus Montero, for the 2011 All-Star. He has a 2-2 record to go along with fifteen strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.
To say Pineda has been injury-prone during his time in pinstripes would be an understatement. He missed the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons. Now he will miss the majority of this season. The 19 2/3 innings Pineda pitched in April represent the entirety of his major league career with the Bombers. Carl Pavano, the original American Idle, who set the standard for injured Yankees, was on the field for 135 2/3 innings in his three years in the Bronx. That’s seven times more innings than Pineda has been able to take the mound.
It was easy to give up on Pavano. He was an overpriced free agent who got injured repeatedly, and wasn’t that great of a pitcher when he managed to play. It would be easy to give up on Pineda as well. Pineda showed up to spring training overweight in 2012 and then injured his shoulder. He missed the first two years and then was suspended for using pine tar during the game. He was caught with the foreign substance just over a week after being caught on camera using pine tar. He was able to get away with the first offense, but ended up with a 10-game ban for the second. Then he injured his lat muscle, and has since suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery. While it might be easier to just cut ties with the right-hander, giving up on Pineda would be a mistake.
It seems as if Pineda has been around forever and his 2011 All-Star rookie season with the Mariners feels like ancient history. However, Pineda is only 25-years-old. Plus, he still has several years of team control left. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until after the 2015 season, and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season. The investment in Pineda is minimal, and the possible benefit is exponential. Pineda has proven that when healthy, he is a top of the rotation starter. The Yankees have seen how expensive top of the rotation talent can be. Pineda is cost-effective, and he is big time talent that will ultimately pay off whenever he can gets back on the field.