The biggest story to come out of Joe Girardi’s press conference this morning had nothing to do with today’s game. Girardi told the media that a decision has been made on which of the Yankees’ six starters will be pulled from the rotation, but he won’t make the announcement until after today’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I’ll probably have it for you after the game,” Girardi said. “I just have to make sure that I tell everyone involved.”
While anything can happen, the expectation is that the decision will come down to pulling either A.J. Burnett or Phil Hughes from the rotation. The odd man out will head to the bullpen.
CC Sabathia obviously isn’t going anywhere, and Freddy Garcia has arguably been the Yankees second most consistent starter. Bartolo Colon has rebounded nicely from a bit of a rough patch, and Ivan Nova currently has the longest winning streak in the majors. Those four appear to be safe.
Burnett has been brutal over the majority of the past two months, but he did have a solid start against the Red Sox on Thursday. Hughes didn’t fare as well against Boston on Wednesday, but he’s shown glimpses of returning to form since coming off the DL. We all know about Burnett’s big contract, but we also know that Hughes is supposed to be a big part of the Yankees future. So, who would you pull?
My quick two cents: I’ve heard many people make the argument that Hughes has more bullpen experience, so it makes more sense to move him out of the rotation. It’s true that Hughes was stellar out of the pen in 2009, but that was as the Yankees set-up man. With David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, etc. in front of Mariano Rivera, those opportunities likely wouldn’t be there for Hughes. The bullpen is a strength on this team right now, so whoever gets moved out of the rotation will likely be delegated to mop up duty. It’s not as if either of these guys is going to be moved into a crucial role.
Maybe I’m a little nervous from the whole Joba situation, but it just doesn’t make much sense to me to bounce a player back and forth who you believe has a chance to be a mainstay in the rotation. Yes, Burnett has two years remaining on his contract, but Hughes is still just 25 years old. He’s had some odd issues this season, but it could be extremely beneficial to get him back on track. Burnett has already ensured that he won’t be a Yankee past 2013 — if not sooner.
I guess we’ll find out how the Yankees feel in a few hours.
Here’s some more notes from Girardi’s press conference:
• Mark Teixeira will return to the lineup after missing the past two games with a bruised right knee. He will bat third and play first. “He came in today and said, ‘I’m good to go,’ ” Girardi said. “I didn’t even ask him. He came and said, ‘I’m good to go’ before I had a chance to ask him. I said, ‘Playing first?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ ”
• Girardi on what it means to have Tex back: “He’s got so much experience over there, and every play you know he’s going to be in the right spot. Swish does a great job in his absence… It’s good to see him get dirty, and he enjoys playing there every once in awhile.”
• Curtis Granderson is not playing today, but it’s just a normal day off. Brett Gardner will play center field, with Andruw Jones playing left against the left-handed Brett Cecil.
• Jesus Montero will DH and bat ninth. Girardi had him hitting seventh in his first two games. Robinson Cano mentioned that he expects Montero to be more relaxed after picking up his first big league hit yesterday, and Girardi concurred. “I think he’s made some pretty good in-game adjustments,” Girardi said. “After looking poor on the curveball from (Ricky) Romero, in his last at-bat that’s (the pitch) he hit… I thought he had an idea of what he wanted to do up there, and that’s a good sign. You would hope that he would relax, because I think everyone is always anxious to get that first hit. You can throw all of the other things out, just coming up as a rookie, it’s hard to relax. You want to impress everyone and prove that you belong.”
• Girardi says that CC will have no restrictions today, despite throwing 128 pitches (the most he’s ever thrown as a Yankee) in his last start. “He’s done that a number of times in his career,” Girardi said. “We’ll watch him carefully, but we watch him carefully anyway because of what time of year it is. We wanted him to go on his fifth day, and he wanted to go on his fifth day. He said he felt good, and he had a great bullpen the other day.”
• The Yankees will look to remain in first-place and complete a sweep of the Blue Jays today. They currently sit 1/2 game ahead of Boston in the standings. The Yankees record in day games is the best in the majors (36-9), and Girardi had an interesting take on why he thought that is the case. “If I had to guess, and it’s hard to put your finger on it, but sometimes with an older club, families get you up earlier, and it’s not such a long day. I know when I became a parent, I loved day games.”