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Workload issues linger throughout Yankees’ rotation07.01.15

Adam Warren

It started in spring training when the Yankees kept Masahiro Tanaka on a relatively light schedule. CC Sabathia, too, moved along a little slower than most.

It continued in April when Chase Whitley came up from Triple-A to make what was supposed to be a spot start, strictly to give the rest of the rotation an extra day of rest. Then came the decision to have Michael Pineda skip a start entirely. Now the decision to move Adam Warren into the bullpen.

“Going into the season, we had some concern about a lot of guys and how many innings (they could throw),” Joe Girardi said. “We knew that it was going to be something that we would have to balance and play with all year long. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Right now, the Yankees don’t have a single starter on pace to throw 200 innings this season. That’s mostly a bad thing because guys haven’t consistently worked deep into games. Rounding slightly up or slightly down, each of the Yankees starters is basically averaging six innings per start (most are slightly below six innings; Michael Pineda is slightly above). If some guys increase their innings-per-start, there are a few who could approach or exceed the 200-inning threshold.

Using their current innings-per-start, and estimating another 16 starts this season — certainly not an exact figure, but 16 should be roughly correct for a healthy second half — here are the current innings and the innings estimates for each Yankees starter. The Yankees should hope that each pitcher exceeds the current estimates by averaging a little more per start in the second half, but this is the best we can do right now.

Masahiro TanakaHere are the numbers, along with some previous workload statistics (official minor league starts are included).

2015 innings: 53.1
On track for: 148
2014 innings: 136.1
2013 innings: 212
Career high: 226.1 (Japan in 2011)

2015 innings: 92.2
On track for: 191.2
2014 innings: 84
2013 innings: 40.2
Career high: 171 (Seattle in 2011)

2015 innings: 95
On track for: 190
2014 innings: 52
2013 innings: 211
Career high: 253 (Cleveland and Milwaukee in 2008)

2015 innings: 27.2 (15.2 in rehab starts)
On track for: 123.2
2014 innings: 20.2
2013 innings: 157
Career high: 187 (Triple-A and New York in 2010)

2015 innings: 82.1
On track for: 175.2
2014 innings: 199.2
2013 innings: 127
Career high: 199.2 (Miami in 2014)

2015 innings: 82.2
On track for: 183 (if he’d stayed in the rotation)
2014 innings: 78.2
2013 innings: 77
Career high: 152.2 (Triple-A in 2012)

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: Beltran status uncertain with ribcage injury07.01.15

Yankees Angels Baseball

Carlos Beltran felt some tightness in his ribcage last night. He played through it then, and played through it again tonight until feeling “a little pinch” when he fouled off a pitch in the fifth inning. Now Beltran’s status is up in the air.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and we’ll make a decision on what we’re going to do,” Joe Girardi said. “He says it probably wouldn’t bother him swinging left-handed; we’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”

The Yankees do face a right-handed pitcher tomorrow, so that might help Beltran stay in the lineup. Girardi said it’s doubtful the Yankees could get a replacement here before the game anyway, so either Beltran can play or the Yankees will play with a two-man bench. Beltran said he’s hopeful it’s not a disabled list situation.

“I hope not, no,” he said. “The way I feel right now, I don’t think so. But tomorrow will be the day where, once I go to the cage, once I test it out, then I will know where I am.”

Beltran said he first felt some tightness yesterday. Nothing particularly unusual, he said, so he played through it. He woke up feeling alright the morning, but the tightness returned when he started hitting the cage. Again, nothing he hadn’t played through before, so he stayed in the lineup. He was still playable until that foul ball. Even then, he stayed in to finish the at-bat before Girardi pulled him.

“If I worry about how tight I feel, then you don’t play,” Beltran said. “As a ballplayer, every day you feel something. I decided to play through it, and I was fine.”

Beltran said he was examined by the Angels’ doctor, who only said that it’s a ribcage/oblique issue. Beltran’s not expecting any tests.

“Any time a player leaves a game, you’re concerned,” Girardi said. “We’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”

Yankees Angels Baseball• Wouldn’t know it these past three games, but the Yankees actually have a pretty productive lineup. They’ve scored the second-most runs in the Majors, and they have the game’s highest team OPS for the month of June. They’ve actually hit pretty well, but they’ve now gone three straight games with only one run. “We just didn’t do much offensively tonight,” Girardi said. “It’s hard to figure out.”

• Last night the Yankees really did seem to hit into some bad luck — hit a lot of balls hard with nothing to show for it — and there might have been some of that tonight, but even Girardi wasn’t ready to completely use that as an excuse. “We’ve had some unlucky things happen to us here,” Girardi said. “The balls Chris (Young) hit yesterday, they’ve made some good plays. We need to score some runs, that’s the bottom line. Whether tough things happen to you or not, you need to score runs to win.”

• Only two hits for the Yankees. The solo homer by Mark Teixeira and yet another hit for Brett Gardner, who has a .486 batting average during an eight-game hitting streak. “Basically the only guy getting on base is just Gardner,” Beltran said. “And we haven’t been able to rally off of him. It’s tough, but at the end of the day, we have to continue to fight.”

• Teixeira is tied for third in the American League with 19 home runs. This was his first homer in 42 at-bats, snapping his longest homerless streak of the season. He entered the game averaging one home run every 13.7 at-bats. He leads the American League with 54 RBI.

• One run through seven innings for rookie Angels starter Andrew Heaney (Yankees kind of oddly had a bunch of lefties in the lineup against him). “He threw a good ballgame against Houston and he threw a good game against us,” Girardi said. “He’s got some angle to him where it looks like he’s going to be able to get in on right-handers and be somewhat difficult on left-handers with the sweeping breaking ball. Only time will tell as you go around the league a couple times and people see, but the young man has a good arm and is off to a good start.”

Ivan Nova• Another strong start by Ivan Nova who pitched into the sixth inning and allowed his only runs on back-to-back homers by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar. “Physically, I feel good,” Nova said. “Even that I gave up two runs, for me it doesn’t feel like a good outing because I want to win the game for the team. Like I said, it’s good that I’m feeling good.”

• Nova questioned his decision to challenge Pujols. “I think first pitch fastball right in the middle to Pujols was a little bit up,” Nova said. “I shouldn’t throw that pitch.”

• Adam Warren came out of the bullpen for the first time this season and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to give the Yankees a chance. “Once I kind of got settled in, I just felt like last year, back where I was last year,” he said. “I felt like I got more comfortable as I went.”

• Getting loose quickly was something Warren hadn’t done in a while. He said he focuses on getting his fastball locked in, and once he has that, he feels good to go. Took him a few pitches to do that in the bullpen, but he was loose and ready by the time he was called into the game. “The first couple of throws down in the bullpen, trying to get hot quick was a little tough,” he said. “But once that adrenaline kicked in it was easy.”

• Let’s give the final word to Alex Rodriguez. “I think (the key) is just maintain our aggressiveness,” he said. “For the most part, over the last two weeks, we’ve swung the bats well, and I’m confident we can continue to do that. What I’m most encouraged about is tonight we saw a preview of what that bullpen is going to be like for us the rest of the year with Nova (in the rotation) and Warren (in the pen), and those guys on the backside — I’m really optimistic about the rest of the year.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees waste another solid start by Ivan Nova07.01.15

Ivan Nova

Another good start for Ivan Nova. Another bad night for the Yankees’ offense. With only two hits and three double plays, the Yankees squandered the few opportunities they had in a 2-1 loss to the Angels. It was the Yankees’ third straight loss, and they’ll try to avoid a sweep tomorrow. Young Angels starter Andrew Heaney struck out seven through seven innings. Nova stranded five runners in the first two innings, and he seemed to have found a groove heading into the sixth inning. That sixth inning, though, started with back-to-back home runs by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar. Quite suddenly the lead was gone, and two batters later, so was Nova. His second start back from the disabled list was another good one – 5.2 innings with two runs and seven strikeouts – but the Yankees’ offense did little to back him. Mark Teixeira homered in the second inning, which was enough for an early lead, but it was also one of only two Yankees hits. Adam Warren relieved Nova and delivered 2.2 scoreless innings in his first relief appearance of the year.

Associated Press photo

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Game 78: Yankees at Angels06.30.15

Ivan NovaYANKEES (41-36)
Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B

RHP Ivan Nova (1-0, 0.00)
Nova vs. Angels

ANGELS (40-37)
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Kole Calhoun RF
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols 1B
Erick Aybar SS
David Freese 3B
Matt Joyce LF
C.J. Cron DH
Chris Iannetta C

LHP Andrew Heaney (0-0, 1.50)
Heaney vs Yankees

TIME/TV: 10:10 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: It actually rained today. I didn’t even realize the Angels had a tarp, but they do.

UMPIRES: HP Paul Schrieber, 1B Fieldin Culbreth, 2B Jim Reynolds, 3B Manny Gonzalez

BRETT THE HITMAN: Brett Gardner is hitting .500 with 15 runs, seven doubles, one triple, four homers, 11 RBI and five walks in his past 11 games, raising his season average from .262 to .305, eighth in the AL. Gardner is tied for the Major League lead with 58 runs this season and tied for second in the A.L. with 15 stolen bases. He is the only A.L. hitter with at least nine homers and 15 stolen bases.

NOVA ON THE ROAD: Ivan Nova ranks third among active pitchers (minimum 30 decisions) with a .645 career road winning percentage (20-11). He?trails only David Price (.697, 53-23) and Adam Wainwright (.652, 58-31). Nova?has gone 5-8 over his last 13 road decisions after beginning his career with a 15-3 road record.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: Tonight marks the Yankees’ 13th game going up against an opposing rookie starting pitcher this season. They are 9-3 in the first 12 games. Those rookie starters have combined to go 2-5 with a 4.81 ERA.?Yankees’ batters are hitting .280 nine homers against rookie starters in 2015.

UPDATE, 10:15 p.m.: Nice dig by Teixeira to help out Nova and get the first out in the bottom of the first.

UPDATE, 10:23 p.m.: Nova leaves runners at the corners for a scoreless first inning.

UPDATE, 10:26 p.m.: Mark Teixeira managed to hit a ball where Mike Trout couldn’t catch it. Solo homer. That’s No. 19 for Teixeira this season. Yankees up 1-0 in the second.

UPDATE, 10:43 p.m.: Nova’s managed to put five runners on base in the first two innings without allowing a run. He’s also thrown just 33 pitches, which is pretty good considering he’s already faced 11 hitters.

UPDATE, 11:13 p.m.: Quietly moving into the bottom of the fourth with the Yankees still up 1-0 on that Teixeira home run. Nova settled in a little bit in the third inning, getting some help from a caught stealing (I thought Trout was safe on replay, but apparently not).

UPDATE, 11:17 p.m.: Four scoreless for Nova.

UPDATE, 11:31 p.m.: Clearly something was bothering Beltran during his fifth-inning at-bat, now he’s out of the game in the bottom of the inning. Garrett Jones playing right field. If Beltran can’t play tomorrow, it would probably be tough to get a player out here in time for the game.

UPDATE, 11:51 p.m.: Back to back home runs in the sixth have put the Angels in the lead. Now a double by Joyce has chased Nova from the game, and here comes Adam Warren to make his first relief appearance of the season.

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Pregame notes: “I was a little frustrated at first”06.30.15

Adam Warren

Four months ago, even Adam Warren didn’t know what to do with Adam Warren.

“I wasn’t really sure what my identity was,” he said. “Am I a starter? Am I a bullpen guy? I struggled with that a little bit in spring training, and once I figured out my routine as a starter, (after) my first couple starts of the season, I started getting back into the rhythm. I really started to figure out, ‘Yeah, I want to be a starter. I want to do this, get that confidence and kind of roll with it.’”

He was on a roll, alright. Nine straight starts with no more than three earned runs. Lowest ERA on the team. He’d become perhaps the most dependable starter in the Yankees rotation, yet last night he found himself sitting the bullpen trying to visualize the old routine. He went down there after Joe Girardi told him the news. Warren sat in the pen and tried to remember when he should start getting ready and how he could lock into a game when he’s not pitching? He tried to figure out what it takes to thrive as a relief pitcher, when he’d finally proven himself as a big league starter.

“I was a little frustrated at first,” he said. “Because I want to be a starter. But I understood. They sat down and talked to me about it, explained it. I understood where they were coming from. I told them I’m not going to be unhappy in the bullpen; I enjoyed being out of the bullpen the last couple years. I’m not upset by any means at that. For me at this point, it’s just getting back into the routine in the bullpen and we’ll go from there.”

There were no surprises in Joe Girardi’s explanation. We’ve all seen this move coming for weeks — even Warren said he knew it was inevitable — so there was nothing Girardi could say in explaining it that would come as a shock.

The Yankees are worried about Warren’s innings. They believe he can be the right-handed reliever they’ve lacked since Opening Day. They know Warren can slide back into the rotation should someone get hurt. They need CC Sabathia to find consistency, and they’ve seen enough positive signs to keep him in the rotation.

“I know everyone a lot of times only wants to think about today and tomorrow and next week and two weeks and a month (from now),” Girardi said. “But we want Adam for a long time, and (his workload) is a concern. … He’s done a great job in the rotation, right? I’ve said that. But I’ve also said he could help us maybe four times a week, and then maybe you strengthen your bullpen.”

Warren’s past bullpen success was an obvious factor in this decision — and there was clearly some process of elimination involved — but Girardi said Warren’s workload was the biggest issue involved. At 82.2 innings, Warren’s already pitched more this season than in either of the past two seasons. Girardi thinks that, if Warren spends the rest of the year in the bullpen, he could get close to 130 innings, which would be about 20 away from Warren’s career-high in the minors.

Clearly Warren wants to stay in the rotation, but he said he the numbers make sense.

“Definitely having a good reason helps,” he said. “It’s still a little frustrating; I feel like I’ve gotten into a little bit of a groove. I understand where they’re coming from and that they mean well by it. … My arm has felt great, but it’s only half the season. I was talking to somebody about this last night; the inning issue is tough, because you usually don’t know how much is too much until it’s too late and you get hurt. I am glad that they’re looking after my health and trying to take care of me. That means a lot to me. But how do know how many innings you can throw? It’s hard to say.”

Jacoby Ellsbury• Here’s how Girardi explained the Jacoby Ellsbury issue: “He’s got just some general fatigue. I guess the running we’ve done the last couple of days has kind of worn him out, and it’s not only in the one leg, it’s in both legs. So, we’ll give him a day off today, and hopefully he’s back in there tomorrow. … We’ve worked him pretty hard because he had to pass a number of tests to get through to where we felt that he was ready to play, so I guess it kind of caught up to him.”

• With Ellsbury unable to play tonight, could he still be back on Friday? “That’s my hope,” Girardi said. “I’ve said all along though, we have to wait and see how he feels. What I hope for and sometimes what really happens are two different things. You’ve got to see how he’s playing and how he’s moving and how his body is responding.”

• Andrew Miller played catch with Larry Rothschild this afternoon. He’s scheduled to pitch off a mound tomorrow. It will be his first time off a mound since the forearm injury, but Girardi said he’s not sure what Miller might do next if tomorrow goes well. “I think you have to see how he feels after he throws tomorrow,” Girardi said.

• This will be Ivan Nova’s second start back from Tommy John surgery. What stood out last time? “Probably his command of all his pitches,” Girardi said. “The quick innings that he had. The groundballs that he got. His curveball, the first one he threw, he overthrew it, and then he kind of found it right away. That’s what really stuck out to me.”

• Warren said he will be available tonight.

• What’s Warren’s role? “I think he can pitch anywhere I ask him to,” Girardi said. “Sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth if I needed him to pitch in the ninth. I wouldn’t hesitate to put him anywhere.”

• Here’s Warren on where he sees himself fitting in the bullpen mix: “Hopefully maybe take some of the workload off those guys. Those guys have worked pretty hard here lately and they a ton of games already, and it’s only halfway. If I can take some of the workload off of them, that’s kind of the goal. Give them another right hander to help out.”

Associated Press photos

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Ellsbury scratched with general fatigue06.30.15

EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury was supposed to play center field tonight. He is instead out of the Tampa lineup because of what Joe Girardi described as “general fatigue.”

Girardi said the issue is in both legs — not only in the bad knee — and the Yankees believe it’s a product of the work Ellsbury did the past week or so to get ready for game action.

The hope is that Ellsbury will play again tomorrow, and Girardi said he still would not rule out having Ellsbury back this weekend. Said it’s possible, but clearly depends on how he feels.

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More lefties in the lineup for second game in LA06.30.15

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B

RHP Ivan Nova

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All-Star Game starters to be announced Sunday (Yankees out of the mix)06.30.15

The Yankees aren’t going to have any starters in next month’s All-Star Game. We already know that. But we also know they’ll have at least one player on the team, so who’s deserving of a nod?

“I think Gardy is well deserving of an All-Star position,” Joe Girardi said. “… I think you could talk about Tex. I think you could talk about Alex. I think you could talk about Betances and the job he’s done. And if he pitches a week or two before the All-Star break, I think you could talk about Miller, too.”

I tend to think Betances is the safest bet, and Gardner might actually have a shot either on the players’ ballot or as an at-large choice by the manager. The problem with Teixeira and Rodriguez is that they’ve put up strong numbers at positions where several players have put up equally strong numbers. Miller might have missed too much time.

As an aside, wouldn’t it be fascinating if the players voted A-Rod into the game, or if fans were given a chance to vote for him on the final ballot? Anyway…

It was interesting — clearly an oversight more than anything else — that Girardi forgot to mention Brian McCann as a viable all-star candidate. By almost every measure, McCann’s been a solid all-star possibility, belonging somewhere in the conversation with Salvador Perez, Russell Martin and Stephen Vogt.

Here’s the latest American League all-star voting update. The starters will be announced on Sunday.




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Gardner left out as fans aren’t sold on Yankees in All-Star lineup06.30.15

Brett Gardner

These Yankees might be in the mix for the American League East, but apparently they’re not contenders in a fan-voted popularity contest.

Major League Baseball announced its latest All-Star voting totals on Monday, and no Yankees player ranked higher than fourth place at an individual position. Mark Teixeira (sixth in the league in home runs) isn’t even top five at first base, Brett Gardner (tied for the league lead in runs scored) isn’t top 15 in the outfield, and Brian McCann (fifth in RBI) is nearly 10 million votes out of the running at catcher.

Even Alex Rodriguez — with all of his positive press in his stunning return from suspension — has less than a quarter of the votes of Nelson Cruz, who was also wrapped up in Biogenesis and currently leads at designated hitter.

Royals Yankees Baseball“I’m sure the numbers are an accurate representation of the guys that the fans want to see in the games,” Gardner said. “If our fans haven’t voted as much as the other fans, than maybe there’s a good reason for that.”

Perhaps part of the problem for the Yankees is that their most deserving all-star just might be reliever Dellin Betances, and fans don’t vote for pitchers. Another problem could be that the Yankees’ most recognizable player is Rodriguez, who carries plenty of baggage that might lead fans to vote against him. They also no longer have their All-Star lock at shortstop.

“We don’t have the guys who have been there seven, eight, nine, 10 years,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’ve been there a long time. You look at the guys with a lot of experience as a Yankee, and we have two or three really, and that’s it. We have Tex, Alex, and Gardy, and that’s about it. A lot of the other guys are new players who don’t necessarily have the history with the fans like some of the other guys who we had for a long time.”

It does seem to say something — though I’m not sure what — that no Yankees player has more total votes than Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s missed more than a month with an injury. It also says something that after Ellsbury, the Yankees’ outfielder with the most votes is Carlos Beltran, who’s definitely not having an all-star season.

Some fans, it seems, simply haven’t realized that the Yankees’ best position player so far just might be the unheralded former college walk-on who’s long carried the label of glorified fourth outfielder.

“I think (Gardner)’s become a complete player,” Girardi said. “He’s not just a leadoff hitter who plays good defense. He’s a guy who drives in runs, and does a lot of different things for your offense.”

According to the WAR statistic measured by FanGraphs, the Yankees have no one as productive as Gardner, who’s 2.5 WAR puts him in a tie with Yoenis Cespedes and Evan Longoria, ahead of Adam Jones and Albert Pujols. Fan voting still has Gardner — a homegrown player putting up good numbers for a wildly popular franchise — outside of the top 15 among outfielders.

“I think that if I’m one of the guys that deserves to go, then I’d like to be a part of it,” Gardner said. “If there’s other guys that deserve to go ahead of me, then I think they should go represent the American League. I haven’t looked at the numbers of other guys to see where the voting is at, so I don’t know. It’s out of my control. I just worry about what I can do, get my work in and go out there and play hard.”

Associated Press photos

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Warren earns his keep; moves to the bullpen anyway06.30.15

Mark Teixeira, Adam Warren

It was well past midnight on the east coast when the inevitable news began to break.

First a tweet from Mark Feinsand, who’d gotten the word first-hand from Adam Warren. Then an email from the Yankees officially announcing that Nathan Eovaldi will start Wednesday’s series finale in Los Angeles.

With that, Warren was moving into the bullpen, literally minutes after CC Sabathia further established himself as the least reliable starter in the Yankees’ rotation.

“It’s tough,” Sabathia said, once again let down by his own performance. “But it’s part of being an athlete: figuring things out, going out there and battling, and trying to do better.”

Before last night’s game, Joe Girardi said the Yankees were planning to stay on rotation with Warren starting Wednesday’s game, but that never really made much sense. There are two off days coming up, which means extra rest even without the sixth starter, and there’s little reason to remain short-handed in either the bullpen or the bench for another turn through the rotation. Plus, Eovaldi is the one guy who pitched nearly 200 innings last season, so if anyone is going to pitch on regular rest right now, he’s probably the best candidate.

Yankees Angels BaseballBut even though we knew it was coming, the decision still seems seems absurd on the surface. And it might still seem absurd as we get a few days and weeks into it.

Warren’s been terrific lately. He currently has a 3.59 ERA, which is the lowest of any Yankees’ starter. Sabathia’s consistently delivered starts like last night’s. He currently has a 5.59 ERA — exactly two runs worse than Warren — which is the fifth-worst among qualified pitchers in baseball.

If it’s so absurd on the surface, why did everyone paying attention see this coming for several weeks? Five reasons:

1. Warren’s already thrown more innings than in either of his past two seasons. The Yankees put a lot of emphasis on workload concerns, and Warren’s workload has become an issue. Remember, he was supposed to be a fill-in starter out of spring training. There was a time this year when it seemed he wouldn’t last even this long.

2. The Yankees have been looking for right-handed bullpen help for about two months now, and Warren was very good in exactly that role last season. He’s as reliable as any option to fill that hole, and he should be able to help in that capacity. Is that more valuable than having him as a starter? Maybe not.

3. Sabathia is Sabathia. Can’t ignore that fact. Whether that’s a good reason is certainly a worthwhile debate, but it factors into the general belief that Sabathia was going nowhere. This guy was the team’s ace for five years, and he’s signed through next season with a vesting option for 2017. The Yankees are, of course, going to try to get him straightened out.

4. Fifteen years in the big leagues, and Sabathia’s never made an appearance out of the bullpen. Not one. His splits this season suggest he might be a useful lefty specialist, but who knows how he’d handle such an unfamiliar role? Is that reason not to try it? Again, that’s up for debate. But if the team’s looking for a reliever, Sabathia’s not necessarily a dependable option.

5. Girardi’s always had a tendency to stick with his veterans. So far, it’s worked with Carlos Beltran this season. It didn’t work with Brian Roberts last year. I suppose it’s worth noting that this isn’t a Girardi-only approach. The San Francisco Giants kept using Barry Zito as a starter even when his career was running off the rails. In seven regular seasons with the Giants, Zito made 197 starts. He pitched out of the bullpen just 11 times.

So, yes, we knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make the reality any less jarring. There were reasons to do it, but at the end of the day, the Yankees just took arguably their best starter out of the rotation, and stuck with the guy who keeps walking a fine line between barely getting by and consistently falling apart.

Associated Press photos

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