Nick Tropeano’s long road back to a big-league mound was a footnote to history since it happened in the same game in which Lucas Giolito of the White Sox threw a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
But it still had to feel awfully good for the West Islip native and Stony Brook University product, who threw four shutout innings of relief for Pittsburgh in his first MLB outing since July 26, 2019.
Tropeano, who turns 30 on Thursday, was on the Yankees’ big-league roster earlier this month for two days but did not get into a game.
Tropeano’s performance on Tuesday won’t get big notice because Giolito finished with the season’s first no-hitter.
But the Pirates noticed. It could lead to Tropeano possibly getting a start for the team with the worst record in baseball at 7-18 going into Wednesday.
Tropeano, wearing uniform No. 72, gave up three hits, walked none and struck out four in relief of starter Steven Brault, who only lasted three innings in the 4-0 loss for Pittsburgh.
“It was good,” Tropeano said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I mean, Braulty went a little short. I’m here to pick up the team in any way. They wanted me to go a little long today. I felt pretty good. I was just trying to get ahead of all the hitters, with first-pitch strikes, using all my pitches and try to put them away when I can.”
Tropeano has overcome enough adversity over the last few years, including a missed 2017 season after Tommy John surgery. He signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees last offseason and was called up to the majors on Aug. 6. But he was designated for assignment two days later and was claimed on waivers by the Pirates on Aug. 11.
He almost had to overcome one more issue on Tuesday while he was warming up in the Pirates bullpen. Tropeano was nearly struck by a line drive that was hit down the rightfield line, clanged off an awning and whizzed by his head as he awaited a throw from his catcher.
But it missed. And then Tropeano didn’t miss his opportunity to impress his new team.
“Give him a ton of credit,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton told the Post-Gazette. “I mean, he hasn’t thrown a ton. To go out and give us four innings of length and to keep a really good offense off-balance . . . really good pitch mix, and definitely went right at them and attacked them, and I think we saw it.”