The Minnesota Twins arguably lost their best pitcher on Saturday afternoon. What does this mean for the Twins as they look to win the AL Central?
The Minnesota Twins are in the heat of a pennant race, but things got a lot more difficult on Saturday. With the Twins trying to piece together a starting rotation, the team received news that Michael Pineda was suspended for 60 games for violating MLB’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The news was confirmed by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
According to Heyman’s report, Pineda’s suspension stems from the use of a diuretic. Upon hearing the news of the positive test, Pineda appealed, but the arbitrator still ruled in favor of a suspension but lowered the number down from the 80-game standard for a first positive test to 60.
Pineda has been one of the best pitchers in the Twins rotation, which was a big surprise considering his circumstances coming into 2019. After a two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery, nobody knew what to expect from the right-hander and whatever he could add to the Twins’ efforts was going to be considered a bonus.
The faith in Pineda was restored with his performance, however, as he went 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA. His performance was also trending up as of late despite a couple of stints on the injured list. Since returning from his first stint on the IL on June 7, Pineda had gone 7-2 with a 3.10 ERA and was dominant in his last start against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, striking out 10 batters in six innings.
The comeback story proved to be too good to be true, however, as Pineda will now miss the rest of this season as well as any postseason run the Twins may go on in the next couple weeks. The news is a brutal blow for the starting rotation as Jose Berrios has been ineffective and Kyle Gibson went on the shelf last week with ulcerative colitis.
For now, the Twins are going to need the rest of their rotation to step up down the stretch. Jake Odorizzi has shown flashes of being dominant throughout the season and while Martin Perez has been up and down, he’s shown some signs of figuring it out despite an eight-run outing against Detroit on Aug. 31.
This may also have a strain on the other areas of the team as the Twins’ best option may be to try and out-slug opponents and the bullpen will be further relied on to pick up the innings that Pineda will leave behind.
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Putting this mildly, this is a major wrench thrown into the Twins plans and could be one that sees the impending free-agent throw his final pitch in Minnesota. For now, the Twins will have to figure this mess out if they want to win their first division title since 2010.