Twins' Michael Pineda Suspended 60 Games for Violating MLB's PED Policy

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2019

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 01:  Michael Pineda #35 of the Minnesota Twins reacts in the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 01, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda received a 60-game suspension from MLB for a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park reported Pineda tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide. ESPN's Jeff Passan added that MLB originally levied an 80-game suspension on the veteran right-hander but reduced the punishment to 60 games, "as a compelling case was made that a banned diuretic he used was not a masking agent for PEDs."

The MLB Players Association released a statement from Pineda, who said he "mistakenly took a medication that was given to me by a close acquaintance, who obtained it over-the-counter and assured me it would safely help me manage my weight." He added the Twins didn't sign off on his using the banned substance:

MLBPA Communications @MLBPA_News

The Major League Baseball Players Association is releasing the following statement on behalf of Michael Pineda: https://t.co/OauP9G1keI

The suspension came at a terrible time for Minnesota, which leads the American League Central by 5.5 games.

In 26 starts, Pineda was 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA and 4.02 FIP, per FanGraphs. He had been particularly effective in the second half, allowing just 18 earned runs (3.04 ERA) and striking out 56 batters in 53.1 innings.

Dan Hayes @DanHayesMLB

Over Michael Pineda’s last 15 starts, he had a 3.10 ERA in 87 innings pitched. The #MNTwins were 11-4 in those games.

The Twins shouldn't have much trouble reaching the playoffs without Pineda. FanGraphs gives them a 99.6 percent chance of doing so and a 97.1 percent chance of claiming the division crown.

His absence will likely be felt much more when the playoffs arrive in October. Pineda has been Minnesota's best starting pitcher since turning his year around.

Offensively, the Twins stack up well against anybody. They set the single-season record for home runs last Saturday.

But the cliche about good pitching beating good hitting often holds up in the postseason. A starting rotation built around Jose Berrios, Martin Perez and Jake Odorizzi will be a big question mark assuming Minnesota makes the playoffs.