The last two weeks of Yankee baseball have been, well, frustrating is really the only word for them. They can’t see to pitch all the way right or hit all the way right and it’s led to more losses than wins. Let’s ramble a bit, just to get the verbal diarrhea out there and into the open.
I think we all know what the issue is here, or rather who the issue is. Despite his bad start last night, Phil Hughes has been pulling his weight in the rotation for a while. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are, have been, and will be fine. And since returning to the rotation on July 2, Freddy Garcia has been more than serviceable (3.95 ERA/4.22 FIP). Ivan Nova, though, hasn’t performed up to task. Mike Axisa at RAB talked about the Nova problem yesterday:
Is that a good idea? No, not really. No team wants to start a bad pitcher every five days but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Nova took his demotion like a champ last season and came back a better pitcher because of it, but the Yankees lack alternatives at the moment. Pettitte is hurt, Michael Pineda is hurt, David Phelps is no longer stretched out enough to start — plus it would hurt the bullpen since he’s one of the few non-matchup options out there — and Adam Warren inspires no confidence after he fell on his face in his big league debut. For better or worse, the Yankees are stuck with their young right-hander.
That bolded last line is probably true. There isn’t much the Yankees can do with regards to Nova. I wouldn’t be opposed to sending him down and bringing up Adam Warren to either start again, or shift to the bullpen while David Phelps takes another run at starting. However, I wonder if lightning could strike twice, so to speak, with another demotion to the minors sparking something in Ivan. While he could work on getting the ball down without much pressure in AAA, he’ll likely get away with some hangers down there. What will that teach him? Living with Nova may be dangerous (he’s starting against strong hitting Toronto and Texas in his next two starts), but it might be the least of a few evils. Pulling Nova and starting Phelps means the bullpen will be depleted , since Phelps isn’t stretched out to go for a full start. Bringing up Warren could work, but will they do that after his last Major League performance? The Yankees have shown a lot of faith in Nova and I don’t think they’ll stop now.
The return of Joba Chamberlain will be a boost to the Yankee bullpen as it gives them something that they’ve lacked since Mariano Rivera went down and Cory Wade and his changeup went haywire: a reliable, non-match-up option. While Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada have been better-than-expected, but games like last show us that a matchup heavy bullpen can bite you at times. Granted, Joba is essentially just a late-innings guy, so he may not help too much on nights when the starter gets knocked out early. Perhaps the team should look to use David Phelps in this role, though it is an admittedly hard role to plan for.
It’s easy to pick on the lineup when guys aren’t hitting, but I’m just not a fan of Curtis Granderson batting leadoff–even though he leads the team in walks–and it has nothing to do with his strikeout tendencies (on pace for a career high K% of 27.9); I just don’t want to see his power wasted anymore. All but nine of his homers this year have been solo home runs, and just three have come with multiple men on base. I advocated for it before, so I’ll say it again: I think it’d behoove the Yankees to bat Curtis Granderson in the four spot. Against left handed pitching, Derek Jeter could leadoff with Nick Swisher batting second; you could even flip those two if you wanted to. Against righties, how about Robinson Cano leading off? He’s shown some improved patience this year and strikeouts are certainly not an issue. Nick Swisher or Derek Jeter (though preferably not) could bat second with Mark Teixeira third and Granderson fourth. Of course, none of this will be an issue when players stop slumping. When will that come? Probably soon. And when it does, it’ll wash the bad taste of this poor stretch right out of our mouths.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees