Before yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi was ruling out no one — except Double-A call up Bryan Mitchell — as a rotation replacement candidate.
“I think we have to look at every possibility right now,” Girardi said.
After yesterday’s game, Girardi was still ruling out no options, but it was clear that he’d been impressed by Vidal Nuno.
“He was great,” Girardi said. “We thought he started to tire there at the end, and that’s why we pulled him. We even had Phelpsie up earlier than that, but he kept making some big pitches and that’s a big boost to be able to give us five innings like that and to be able to hold that team down, especially the way they were swinging. It’s a big start for him. Obviously we need to make some plans for Saturday, and we’ll do that tomorrow.”
Here’s a quick look at some of the possibilities for Ivan Nova’s open rotation spot. It’s worth noting that the Yankees could find one short-term and eventually settle on a different long-term answer.
The guy who has the job at the moment
After making a spot start on Sunday, Nuno actually fits into the rotation perfectly for the time being. He would be on turn to take Nova’s next start, and he’s stretched out enough to throw roughly 80-plus pitches next time out. For the moment, Nuno is in place and seems like the most natural short-term option. Yesterday’s five scoreless innings more than doubled his workload for the season, and while he acknowledged getting tired in the late innings, Nuno breezed through the early innings and looked like a guy capable of getting through a big league lineup more than once. “It was just another outing, and another opportunity to go out there and prove that I could pitch,” Nuno said. “And I went out there and gave it my all.”
The guy with the most experience
Aside from the four guys currently in the rotation, the Yankees pitcher with the most major-league rotation experience is Phelps. He made 12 starts last year and 11 the year before. Down in Triple-A, Alfredo Aceves has more major-league innings than Phelps, but not as many major-league starts. Phelps and Adam Warren were each rotation candidates this spring, but Girardi indicated that Phelps seems like a more likely rotation candidate now. “I don’t think it would be too hard (to get him stretched out),” Girardi said. “I think Phelpsie, his outings have been a little bit longer than Warren’s. They’re not as stretched out as they were before.”
The guy waiting in Triple-A
In spring training — on the very day they decided to carry all three of Nuno, Phelps and Warren in the big league bullpen — the Yankees signed Aceves to a minor league deal with plans of putting him in the Triple-A rotation. Aceves stayed behind in extended spring training to get stretched out, then he made his season debut with five scoreless innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday. The struck out five, walked one and allowed three hits. Good season debut for a guy who’s had some big league success at various times and in various roles. “He’s obviously a guy that has pitched in the big leagues and has had success here,” Girardi said.k “I don’t know if he’ll be in the conversation, but we’ll sit down and talk about it.”
The guy on the 40-man roster
The Yankees have only one Triple-A starter who’s actually on the 40-man roster, and that guy happens to have barely pitched this year. After staying in big league camp all spring, Greene was left behind to get stretched out in extended spring training, but he wound up being called up to serve as a just-in-case major league mopup man. He never got in a game for New York and has since made two relatively short appearances out of the Triple-A bullpen while trying to get back into starting shape. Greene wouldn’t seem to be a short-term option, but none of the other healthy Triple-A starters (Manny Banuelos is still in Tampa, Nik Turley has yet to make his season debut) are on the 40-man. Aceves, Chris Leroux, Bruce Billings and Brian Gordon do have big league experience, though. Greene and Banuelos could be better options a month from now.
Associated Press photo