If the New York Yankees are going to make the postseason, they might have to do it without starting pitcher Michael Pineda.
The Yankees announced Friday that Pineda has a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow and may need Tommy John surgery. Pineda, 28, is seeking a second opinion, according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Pineda, whose Yankees career has been a mixed bag, is 8-4 this season with a 4.39 ERA. He was impressive for the Yankees in May, but June was a little tougher, as his ERA ballooned to 5.35 and he didn’t reach the sixth inning in three of his six starts. That might have signaled something was wrong.
Michael Pineda has a partial tear of his UCL. He is seeking a second opinion but the recommendation is to have Tommy John surgery.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 14, 2017
The Yankees are currently 45-41, second in the AL East and 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox. Pitching has been a question for the Yankees all season, as Masahiro Tanaka has had a rough season with a 5.47 ERA and CC Sabathia is aging. Young pitchers Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have been a bright spot for the Yankees, though. But if they lose Pineda, they could be pushed into making a move before the trade deadline.
A partially torn UCL doesn’t necessarily mean surgery. A number of pitchers have tried to pitch through a partial ligament tear — heck, Tanaka is pitching through a partial UCL tear right now. If Pineda does decide to rehab the injury and pitch through it, he’s likely to return this season. If he elects surgery, Pineda would miss 12-18 months.
The bigger question for Pineda’s career going forward is that he’s a free agent after this season and having either a ticking UCL in his pitching elbow or going through Tommy John rehab will significantly impact his payday.
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