After a disastrous introduction to the Major Leagues, the Yankees sent Kei Igawa down to Tampa to work with pitching guru Billy Connors. And then he disappeared. Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard and Matt DeSalvo filled in at the back end of the rotation, and now Roger Clemens’ return is upon us.
However, down in the Minors, Igawa is quietly showing some progress. After two alright starts at Tampa, the Yanks sent Igawa to AAA Scranton. In his first start, he was bad, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs in 5 innings. But lately, he’s shown some progress.
Tonight, Igawa threw 100 pitches in 7 innings. Sixty-two of those were strikes. That’s about on par with his MLB strike percentage of 61, but the results were different than we remember. He gave up just 5 hits and 1 earned run while walking 2 and striking out 8. His totals from this two most recent AAA starts look good: 14 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 17 K.
With Clippard set to start on Sunday and Igawa pitching well, I have to wonder if the pressure will start to mount just a little on young Tyler. If Clippard scuffles â€” and there is nothing to indicate he will â€” the Yanks may consider giving their expensive Japanese import another shot at the Majors.
But this may not be a good idea. Tonight, Igawa pitched well, but he got 9 fly-ball outs and only 4 ground-ball outs. In his previous start, he recorded 6 fly-ball outs and 5 ground-ball outs. Those numbers are less than impressive.
In April, Igawa’s problem came on the long ball. He has already surrendered 8 home runs in in 30.2 innings. While he’s limited the number of home runs he’s given up in the Minors, I’m not yet convinced he’ll be a viable option in the Majors. As long as the Yanks have other options, I say they should keep using him, money be damned.