It was hinted at before his last ExST start on Monday, confirmed later in the week after he came through that outing without any further fingernail problems, and it will become a reality tonight. Almost some 17 months after first being traded, Michael Pineda will throw his first in-game pitches in a Yankee uniform. A Tampa Yankee uniform, sure, but that's still good news for the guy who was brought in to be the king of hearts to CC's ace. Pineda will get the start for Tampa tonight against the Lakeland Flying Tigers and everybody will get their first chance to see how he looks pitching in a real game. The reports on his bullpen, sim gam, and ExST game work have all been incredibly encouraging, with his velocity regularly sitting in the low-to-mid 90s range the last few times he's pitched. This somewhat surprising quick return of said velocity has added a hint of excitement to this rehab comeback, and with the Yankee rotation depth taking a few hits in the last 24 hours due to Wang's opt out and Nuno's injury, Pineda's chances of moving right into the rotation are getting even better.
That move is still plenty of weeks away, as the Yankees will likely use every bit of the 30-day rehab window and then some to ensure Pineda is fully stretched out and feeling 100% physically. Joe implied before last night's game that the Yankees would like to see him throw at least 2 consecutive games of 90-100 pitches before calling him up, and I expect the Yankees will use a few extra weeks after the 30 days are up to do just that in Triple-A and also allow themselves to regain that year of team control they lost last year.
Pineda's game starts at 6 PM EST tonight. I more than likely won't be around to cover it, but there should be plenty of other folks on the interwebs taking care of that.