After apparently being asked a lot about the decision to keep Vidal Nuno lined up for tonight’s start, Joe Girardi grew a little irritated when he was asked to explain the decision again tonight.
Irritated or not, it led to easily one of the most thorough answers Girardi’s ever given.
“Tanaka is a guy, the most he’s thrown is 226 innings,” Girardi said. “He’s on pace to throw 226 innings. He’s been a guy that’s used to pitching every seven days.
“I’ve been asked over the last, I don’t know, eight months, a hundred times, do you think Kuroda got tired? Hmm. Do you think Kuroda got tired? Huh. I have a guy in Chase Whitley that’s made 20 starts in his career. Most he’s ever thrown in a year is 95 innings. David Phelps is not a guy that’s been a starter every year, so it’s about five guys. It’s not about Tanaka.
“If I move Tanaka up today, he makes six starts in 30 days, every five days. What starter does that? We don’t play more than 20 days in a row. No starters do that because it’s physically too tough, so when you have a chance to give a guy an extra day, you do. He’s going to make four starts. Three on everyday rest. So are some of the other guys. I have to be careful. It’s a long season. And if I start him today or tomorrow, he still makes the same number of starts before the All-Star break. So I’m going to say last, this is about five guys, it’s not about one guy. Question answered.”
Fair enough. It’s certainly possible to disagree — for many reasons, it’s worth wondering if almost anyone would be a better option than Nuno, especially at home — but the Yankees are unconvinced that any of their Triple-A starters are ready to move up, they’re hesitant to convert their young relievers back into starters, and they legitimately face some real workload issues with this patchwork rotation.
This is the start of playing 17 days in a row leading into the All-Star break. Surely some sort of rotation change will happen at some point, either through pitchers getting healthy or pitchers being acquired, but for now Girardi seems focused on getting by with what’s already in place. And for tonight. that means starting Nuno in a stadium where he has a 7.09 ERA this season.
• CC Sabathia is making his first rehab start tomorrow in Tampa. He’s scheduled for 40-45 pitches. Next will be 60 pitches. “You start to think that you’re getting to where he’s pretty close to getting back,” Girardi said.
• If Sabathia goes 45 pitches tomorrow, then 60 next week, he should be up to 75 pitches in his third minor league start. Girardi said he expects Sabathia to need at least that many before being activated from the disabled list.
• Michael Pineda remains on track to play catch tomorrow. He was going to do it last Saturday, but he was shutdown because of a setback with that upper back muscle near his right shoulder.
• Isn’t there anyone in the minors who could help this rotation before Sabathia and/or Pineda is ready? “We might be forced to add another pitcher, I don’t know,” Girardi said. “But right now some of the starters are young, and we just don’t feel there’s someone that we’d go too.”
• The Yankees aren’t likely to have Tanaka pitch immediately before and immediately after the All-Star break. “What you try to do is you try to give everyone a couple extra days,” Girardi said. “You kind of look at where they’ve thrown and give a couple extra days to everyone because you figure that everyone is probably going to have some fatigue at that point, because of this stretch that we’re in. You don’t want guys to go too many days but you’ll look it. My guess is that if (Tanaka)’s pitching Sunday (before the break), he’s not pitching Friday (after the break).”
• Things seemed pretty light pregame. Derek Jeter and some others took early batting practice, but it was pretty quiet. Importance of a Red Sox series minimized by the fact the Red Sox are a losing team? “They’re division games,” Girardi said. “And it seems like all of our division games are important. There’s still a long ways to go. I’ve been asked that question a few times. Whenever we play someone within the division, I think it’s extremely important whether you’re ahead of them or behind them because, if you’re ahead of them, they’re trying to catch you; and if you’re behind them, you’re trying to catch them. So I still think it takes on a lot of importance.”
Associated Press photos