Michael Pineda is down for the rest of the year, and the Yankees' pitching depth — and willingness to make a deal — will be tested accordingly.
The New York Yankees are just 2-6 in the month of July, and it seems that Aaron Judge's dominant Home Run Derby performance didn't do much to change their bad luck.
On Friday, general manager Brian Cashman announced that starting pitcher Michael Pineda has been recommended to undergo Tommy John surgery, which will sideline him for the rest of the season. The news comes just two days after the Yankees were outbid by the Cubs in their pursuit of former White Sox lefty Jose Quintana.
After surrendering five or more runs in five of their last eight games, the Yankees pitching staff is in dire straits. With a 4.39 ERA and a WHIP of 1.287, Pineda didn't have his sharpest stuff this season, but for a team that has its sights set on the postseason, his potential replacements won't inspire any confidence.
"This is a significant loss for our team," said Cashman. "It creates a significant opportunity for others — like Bryan Mitchell or Luis Cessa — within our system. At the same time, I will still stay engaged with the entire marketplace, see if there’s anything that matches to our satisfaction."
Of the names Cashman mentioned, Cessa is having the better season. Roughed up in his first few appearances, he's tossed 6.2 scoreless relief innings in July and looks like the frontrunner to fill the rotation vacancy. Mitchell has posted a 5.06 ERA in 12 relief appearances, and what's more, he's a full year older than Cessa.
But neither one is likely to give the Yankees peace of mind as they prepare for the second half. They're on a 7-18 skid as it is. The Red Sox have assumed the lead in the American League East, and the Wildcard race has only gotten tighter.
All of this means that the Yankees will likely need to make a trade to fortify their rotation. Cashman was in talks with the White Sox about Quintana but ultimately unwilling to part with New York's top prospects.
"I’m not going to tell you what the White Sox asked for from us, but what they received, you would assume that there are clubs that aren’t able to do that," he said. "The clubs that are — including ourselves — you can assume they asked for similar caliber players. They got the No. 1 and 2 prospects out of the Cubs’ system, some of which are recognized as the top 5 to 10 in the industry. You can make your own conclusions."
The Yankees' top two prospects are shortstop Gleyber Torres and outfielder Clint Frazier, both of whom figure significantly into the team's future plans. Frazier, called up to the majors just this month, is slugging .875 through his first seven games.
A self-described "careful buyer," Cashman knows that cashing in a young gun or two could be necessary to maintain a playoff pace — he even checked in on Oakland Athletics hurler Sonny Gray, notes Jon Heyman. But the longtime GM has stood pat at the trade deadline in the past, and he needs to determine whether or not this year's Yankees are good enough to warrant further investment.
That process will begin on Friday, when the Yankees visit the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Bronx Bombers have gone 4-1 against their division rivals this season.