Tigers right-hander Michael Pineda had to leave today’s game in the second inning after being hit in his throwing hand by a Ramon Urias line drive. Following the game, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jason Beck) that Pineda had suffered a fractured right middle finger. A trip to the injured list is inevitable, and Hinch said that Pineda will visit specialists to determine the next course of action in recovery.
It’s a tough outcome for both Pineda and the Tigers, who are already missing multiple members of their ideal starting rotation. Matt Manning (shoulder discomfort) may be within a week or two of returning to action, but Casey Mize (elbow sprain) didn’t last long in his first rehab start, and his rehab assignment has now been paused. Tyler Alexander also made some spot starts earlier this season, before a left elbow sprain put the southpaw on the shelf.
Pineda missed some time himself at the start of the year, as visa issues delayed his arrival to Spring Training and thus his preseason prep was delayed. Though five starts and 22 1/3 innings, Pineda has a 3.22 ERA, though with only a 13.63% strikeout rate. While that K% is a particular low, Pineda’s story for the last four seasons has been delivering some solid bottom-line numbers (3.77 ERA over 303 innings) despite generally unimpressive peripherals. Pineda signed a one-year, $5.5MM deal that contains up to $2.5MM in bonus money based on innings totals, but he’ll have trouble hitting any of those innings thresholds if he misses substantial time on the IL.
The Tigers signed Pineda to add some veteran experience to their young staff, and just five weeks into the season, that pitching depth has already been sorely tested. Tarik Skubal has been excellent and Eduardo Rodriguez has started to turn things around after a rough start, but Detroit has turned to Beau Brieske, Alex Faedo, and Joey Wentz to all make their first Major League starts.
Faedo was already expected to be recalled from Triple-A to start Monday’s game, and Brieske will likely stick in the rotation after having posted some decent results to date. Wentz could also get another look for a start or two until the Tigers feel Manning is ready to be activated from the injured list.