Jeff Passan of ESPN was the first to report this afternoon that Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda has been suspended for 60 games by Major League Baseball due to violations of its drug prevention program:
Twins starter Michael Pineda has been suspended for 60 games for a drug violation, sources tell ESPN. He originally got an 80-game suspension, but it was reduced to 60 on appeal, as a compelling case was made that a banned diuretic he used was not a masking agent for PEDs.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 7, 2019
According to Dan Hayes of The Athletic, Pineda tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, which is a diuretic that helps with blood pressure and is banned by the MLB because of its use as a masking agent in covering up the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs):
The Minnesota Twins released a statement regarding the suspension:
Pineda has released a statement through the MLB Players Association, stating that he took medication that was to help manage his weight:
The Major League Baseball Players Association is releasing the following statement on behalf of Michael Pineda: pic.twitter.com/OauP9G1keI— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) September 7, 2019
This comes off of Pineda’s fantastic start against Cleveland last night in which the Twins lost in extra innings by a score of 6-2. Pineda went 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 10 K, allowing a homer for his only earned run. On the year, he’s been one of the most consistent starters in this year’s rotation, posting a 4.01 ERA in 26 starts, going 11-5 and a K/BB rate of 5.00. Since the All-Star Break, he’s posted a 3.04 ERA in nine starts and across 53.1 IP. He’s notched 56 strikeouts against 12 walks during that timeframe as well. He held batters to a .238/.282/.386 triple slash during those nine games.
Obviously a big blow to the starting rotation, Twins bullpen arms will need to step up to fill in what would have been Big Mike’s remaining starts as well as possible playoff starts as well. Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, and Randy Dobnak are clear choices to become main starters for the rest of the season.
We’ll have some additional articles within the coming days of the impact of Pineda’s suspension and what moves the Twins may make to fill the open rotation spot.