Pineda’s Injury Settles Rotation Questions…For Now
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on April 4, 2012.
One of the fortunate things about having “too much pitching” is that, when someone goes down, either to injury or a losing streak, there’s always someone waiting to pick up the slack.
Most didn’t expect that situation to arise before the Yankee season even started, but, recently acquired pitcher Michael Pineda has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder. The injury has put a temporary end to questions about who will fill the final spot in Joe Girardi’s rotation.
Prior to Pineda’s placement on the DL, he and Ivan Nova appeared to be competing for the coveted fifth spot. Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia had recently been announced as the third and fourth starters, a move that surprised many. At the beginning of spring training, it seemed likely that Hughes and Garcia would be the ones competing, considering Nova’s 16-4 rookie record and Pineda’s All-Star 2011 season and low ERA.
However, both Garcia and Hughes have had strong pre-seasons. Garcia has pitched 12.1 innings, giving up 10 hits with a 2.92 ERA. Hughes has posted a 1.56 ERA in 17.1 innings so far. His latest effective outing was Monday night in Miami, in which he pitched four scoreless innings.
Garcia’s placement in the rotation was understandable, given his status as a veteran and his solid season last year, but it seemed presumptuous to assign Hughes the starting role based on a handful of spring starts. Hughes’ career has been as erratic as the subway system on a weekend schedule, ranging from the sublime (18-8 in 2010) to the ridiculous (0-4, 6.62 one season earlier) to the mediocre (5-5 last season). In addition, the majority of his seasons have been marred by injury.
A logical assumption was that Hughes would, at least, begin the season in the bullpen, especially since Joba Chamberlain is out of commission indefinitely. Furthermore, no one seemed to think Pineda would be in consideration to start the season in the minors, given the fact that that he is the main reason Jesus Montero became the Yankee sacrificial lamb in the name of decent young pitching during the offseason.
And Pineda didn’t deserve to be sent to the minors, nor did Nova, who proved himself worthy of a big-league rotation spot last season despite a questionable midseason demotion.
These arguments are, of course, moot point for now, due to Pineda’s injury. But Girardi is going to have some thinking to do when Pineda returns–which could be as early as the Yankees’ first home series against the Angels–followed by even more thinking when Andy Pettitte joins the rotation in May.
There are no foolproof answers to the Yankee rotation questions. It’s a saga we have been following since last season, wrought with unexpected twists and turns. But, one thing we do know for sure, is that CC Sabathia will be on the mound on Friday’s opening day game in Tampa.