For the past four years, though, shoulder problems have derailed his progress. But at least Monday, he showed he can still pitch.
The Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre right-hander stifled Pawtucket for one hit and one walk while striking out two over seven shutout innings in the Yankees' 2-1 win over the Red Sox.
The outing was the strongest yet this year for the 31-year-old, who has been mostly effective in his last four starts following a tough six-run 4 2/3-inning outing July 8 against Buffalo. Since then, he's gone 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 17 strikeouts and eight walks.
Overall, his recent run has brought Maine's ERA down over two runs, from 7.15 following the Buffalo start to 5.01.
For the season, he's 5-3 with 40 strikeouts and 21 walks in 46 2/3 innings. Four of his last six starts have lasted at least six innings, after he didn't make it past the fifth in any of his first four outings this season.
Last year, Maine made it through six innings just twice in 11 starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA in 46 innings. He also walked more batters (37) than he struck out (35) for the Sky Sox.
Maine threw 421 innings for the Mets between 2006-'08, going 31-23 with a 3.93 ERA in that span, including a 15-10 season in 2007, when he posted a 3.91 ERA and struck out 180 in 191 innings. After that, he only threw 121 in the following two seasons as he wrestled with his injuries, posting a 4.98 ERA for New York in that time.
The University of North Carolina-Charlotte product signed on with Colorado last year, and went to camp with the Red Sox this season, but never made it out of extended spring training. The Yankees signed him up at the end of May.
On Monday, Daisuke Matsuzaka rehabbed with Pawtucket, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out three over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Matsuzaka has been up and down throughout the Boston system on rehab assignments this year, landing on the disabled list three different times with various neck and elbow issues. He's recorded a 3.23 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the PawSox, while going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 23 innings in the Majors.