The New York Yankees have been using smoke and mirrors in their rotation after they lost four of their five Opening Day roster starters to the DL. But despite the injuries, New York still finds itself very much in the playoff hunt. Pitchers like Brandon McCarthy, Shane Greene, and David Phelps, who is now on the DL himself, have exceeded any expectations that New York could have had for them. The great news for the Yankees is that one of those four starters, former All-Star, Michael Pineda, is back.
Pineda was last seen pitching against the Boston Red Sox on April 23, and was ejected by the umpire for having pine tar on his neck. After being handed a 10-game suspension, he would strain a muscle in his upper back trying to stay in shape, and landed himself on the 60-day DL. It is very good news for the Yankees that, after a good start against the Baltimore Orioles, Pineda seems to be ready to be the ace the Yankees staff needs for the playoff push.
Now in the middle of August, playoff races around the league are heating up, and the Yankees find themselves in a battle for the second wild card spot, and still not too far away from the Orioles in the AL East. The problem for the Yankees is the team is looking up at three teams currently for the second wild card spot, and two of the teams have legit aces that the Yankees simply couldn’t compete with, given their rotation injuries. The Detroit Tigers have David Price and Max Scherzer, and the Seattle Mariners have Felix Hernandez, all three are pitchers that, when they are on the hill, their team expects to win.
For the Yankees, they don’t have their ace in Masahiro Tanaka currently, but a healthy, focused Pineda has shown that he can hold his own against the game’s greats. Pineda can be a major asset in August and September for the Yankees, who are in need of an ace, but the health concerns and his motivation will be two things to keep an eye on.