1. Michael Pineda
You thought Michael Pineda was injured, didn’t you?! Well … he is, but he’s on the mend, making successful rehab starts in the past few days.
You thought the Yankees’ rotation was perfect, didn’t you?! You’re half-right! It’s been pretty spectacular! But in order to keep it spectacular down the stretch and into the postseason, a few of these guys need to be vacuum-sealed; specifically, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino (and don’t forget about Jameson Taillon’s past injury woes, either!).
After Luis Gil’s Tommy John surgery, the Yankees’ first line of defense for starting pitching depth looks like: Clarke Schmidt, JP Sears, Domingo German, prospects Ken Waldichuk and Hayden Wesneski, and … Deivi Garcia? Banuelos? It’d be nice to add a veteran presence to the mix. Why not trade for Pineda from the reeling Tigers rather than overpay for Jose Quintana of the Pirates (another former Yankee, bonus)?
The 33-year-old Pineda doesn’t throw quite as hard as he used to and doesn’t miss bats terribly often, but in five starts earlier this season, he posted a 1.07 WHIP and 3.22 ERA for a ballclub that was treading water before sinking entirely in his absence. Was he getting hit hard? Absolutely; he’s bottom of the barrel in nearly all percentiles (in limited duty).
Look … it’s not very appealing. But if the choice is surrendering a lottery ticket so Pineda can absorb 4-5 starts down the stretch for a team playing above-.700 ball, or giving away 2-3 valuable prospects so Quintana can regress, this is probably the play. Of course, they could just keep handing the ball to Sears and German instead.