The New York Yankees received bad news before the second half of the season even got started. Before the Yankees began their four-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday, GM Brian Cashman announced that Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.39) had a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), as well as a flexor tendon strain, both in his right elbow. Tommy John surgery has been recommended, but Pineda, who is in the final year of his contract, is now in the process of getting a second opinion.
Michael Pineda’s Injury Highlights New York Yankees Pitching Woes
In Pineda’s final start prior to the All-Star break against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 5, the consistently inconsistent pitcher surrendered three home runs. It was not until two days later that he reported discomfort in his elbow to Yankees trainer Steve Donohue which prompted an MRI the very next day that ultimately confirmed the grim news. Pineda is currently seeking a second opinion, but if that initial recommendation is given again, Pineda might not see the baseball diamond til 2019 if all goes well.
Pineda got off to such a great start in April and May by going 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts. Yankee fans thought this just might be the year that he finally puts it all together. But once June came around, so did the reliably inconsistent Pineda. In his last five starts, the once promising pitcher gave up five or more runs in four of those starts. In his last five starts, Pineda went 1-1 with a 7.30 ERA while giving up 39 hits and seven home runs in only 24.2 innings pitched. With his season ending injury, and the fact this is his last year under contract with the Yankees, it is safe to say we have seen the last of Pineda in Pinstripes. He will finish his Yankees career with a record of 31-31 with a 4.16 ERA.
Current New York Yankees Pitching Woes
The Yankees are 7-19 in their last 26 games, and if they fall to Red Sox on Saturday, they will have lost 20 of their last 27 games. Since starting the season 21-9, the Yankees have gone 24-33, and are 9-17 in one run games with their bullpen blowing 18 saves. Since June 13, Tyler Clippard has an ERA of 14.85, Dellin Betances has an ERA of 11.05, and Aroldis Chapman has an ERA of 4.50. The Yankees bullpen is 2-10 in the last 12 games with an ERA of 5.03. If you cannot close out games, you cannot consistently win. But the Yankees bullpen is to talented to keep struggling the way they have been. Hopefully Boston has not run away with the division by the time the Yankees figure things out.
With Pineda done for the season, the Yankees are going to have to find a way to fill his spot in the rotation. Cashman is not against trading for a pitcher, but he is certainly not going to decimate his farm system in order to do it. As of now, Bryan Mitchell will pitch Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader, and Luis Cessa will pitch next week against the Minnesota Twins. Cashman also did not rule out bringing up Chance Adams who is 18-4 with a 1.99 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts. Adams split time between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes/Barre.
The Yankees are going to need their starting pitchers to keep them in games until their bullpen comes around. Thankfully that is something they have done all season despite Pineda’s inconsistency, the injury to CC Sabathia (7-3, 3.81) and Masahiro Tanaka (7-8, 5.47) pitching like anything but an ace. Tanaka at one point was 5-7 with a 6.34 ERA before he pitched three straight gems to even his record at 7-7 while lowering his ERA to 5.25 and looking like the Tanaka of old. Unfortunately, his last outing against the Milwaukee Brewers was not pretty as he gave up five runs, including two home runs on six hits in four innings that dropped his record to 7-8.
Despite the starting pitching being shaky at times, they are keeping the Yankees in games, and it is due in large part to Luis Severino (5-4, 3.54) and rookie left-hander Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78). Severino could possibly be 11-4 if the bullpen did not blow six of his games that he was in line to win. The hard throwing right-hander is in a number of top ten categories for pitchers, including WHIP, Hits Per 9, BB/9, K/9, IP, strikeouts, K/BB, and HR/9. Then there is the rookie Montgomery who leads all rookies with a 3.78 ERA, leads all rookie starting pitchers in K/BB with 3.11, leads all rookie starting pitchers in WHIP with 1.23, and is second among rookie pitchers in winning % with .600.
The New York Yankees have three priorities they like to address heading into the July 31st trade deadline. They could use another starting pitcher, veteran help in the bullpen, and a first baseman that can provide some production. However, acquiring a starter means nothing if Betances and Chapman can’t get the job done. If the bullpen turns around, and now, maybe Cashman makes a move or two. Just do not expect him to make a splash, that is not his style.