And the Yankees fail to complete the sweep. Winning two out of three obviously isn’t bad, but when you have a chance at a sweep, you’d like to see them come storming out of the gates. That goes doubly when Ramon Ortiz is on the mound, hef of the 5.57 ERA last year in Washington.
Focusing on the positive for one fleeting moment, Sean Henn has been stellar in this young season. He’s allowed just one run over eight innings, and his work in long relief has eased the burden on the rest of the pen. I could go on and note that his peripherals to this point don’t add up — just one strikeout to one walk and a 6/7 groundball to flyball ratio) — but I’ll stick with this positive while the positive is going.
As Ben noted, Moose may only miss one start, which could work under the current schedule. After the off day today, Igawa will start Friday at Oakland, followed by Pavano and Pettitte on Saturday and Sunday. Another off day on Monday helps, though it won’t keep Darrell Rasner from taking the ball Tuesday at the Stadium against Cleveland, Mussina’s scheduled start. So the Cleveland series will be Rasner, Igawa, and Pavano, lining up Pettitte to start Friday at Fenway. The hope from there would be to have Wang available for Saturday afternoon’s affair, and Moose ready to go on Sunday.
If Moose does end up hitting the DL, though, I’m going to come right out and advocate Phil Hughes for the job. I know many of you want to see him develop more in AAA, but I have to wonder how much that’s going to help. He looked more than solid in his first outing, and he pitches again tonight. If he’s dominating, I don’t see a reason not to challenge him at the big league level, especially since there’s now an excuse to do so. Give him the ball against Cleveland on Tuesday and then again against the Sox in Fenway on Sunday. That would also put him in line to start the following Friday night in the Stadium against Boston. Seriously, I cannot think of a better way to start off Phil Hughes.
What if he falters, you ask? It’s just part of becoming a pitcher. He’s going to get knocked around in the majors at some point or another, so it might as well be now so that he can rub some dirt on it and help us later in the season. The other plus to breaking him in now is that Igawa’s time in the rotation might be short. Of course, we saw Pavano and Pettitte (and nearly Moose, too) rebound from less than stellar starts, so there is hope for Igawa. Unfortunately, he’s still an unknown quantity at this point, and two more lousy starts is a call for serious concern. If Hughes can pitch well enough to help the team and Igawa still hasn’t acclimated himself to the majors, there’s no reason to continue the experiment. In Hughes, out Igawa, and let’s win some games.
Since Moose’s next start isn’t until Tuesday, DLing him gives the Yankes another advantage: the option of recalling a reliever (please, not Ron Villone) for the weekend series. Henn has tossed eight innings in nine games, Vizcaino has tossed 5.2, and Proctor has tossed five. Adding Britton to the mix would allow some of those guys to rest. This goes especially for Farnsworth and Proctor who, as Ben mentioned, were way down on their velocity last night. I know the YES gun is inflated, but everything is relative. Proctor and the Farns usually hit 96 to 99 on that gun, but last night were topping out at 92. That does suggest a dead arm period, for which the only remedy is rest. Bringing up an extra reliever for the weekend would mitigate that situation.
Of course, what we’ll probably see is the Yankees granting Mussina’s wish to skip the DL. With the off day today, Torre figures he can use Proctor on Friday, so all is well. And, since two days in a row is no big deal, he’ll be available Saturday, too. Wait, there’s an off day on Monday, so you can pencil him in for an inning Sunday, as well.
I’ve grown fond of the Oakland A’s lately — as fond as I can grow of another AL team, I suppose — so I’m really looking forward to the series this weekend. Their pitching is top-notch, but their offense is atrocious. And, of course, the Yanks drew Haren, Blanton, and Harden, so it’s not like they’re going to pile on the runs. Maybe against Blanton, but Haren and Harden are nasty. I can see Pettitte getting into a duel with Harden on Sunday, but I don’t see much good coming of Igawa vs. Haren on Friday. Carl Pavano owes me a birthday victory on Saturday night.
Some final notes:
- Uh, any time you’re ready to get started, Jason, we’re ready for you. The season’s almost two weeks old, in case you haven’t checked your calendar or something.
- Despite being a righty, Dan Haren tosses to lefties better than righties. Once again, does not bode well for our chances Friday. Though, to quote the great philosopher (or at least he will be in the future) John Beck: “Baseball’s a funny sport.” Here’s to hoping for some of those antics on Friday.
- Joe Blanton, who will oppose Pavano on Saturday, has lefty/righty splits nearly identical to Haren (averages, of course; he doesn’t come close in the strikeout department). Pavano’s going to have to work extra hard for that birthday W.
- It’s tougher to judge Rich Harden, because of the injuries and all. However, he does fare better against righties than lefties. Disclaimer: even though the preceding statement is true, Harden still pitches lefties better than both Haren and Blanton. If this guy puts up even 150 innings, he’s going to catapult the A’s in that division.
- And finally, a sad note. The man who inspired me to first put pen to paper, the man whose novels I spent so much class time in college reading, Kurt Vonnegut, died yesterday at the age of 84. I’m not sure if the half-mast flag down the street from me is for him, but as far as I’m concerned, it is. R.I.P., Kurt.