What the Yankees could use today — well, what they could use any day, but today especially — is a good ol’ fashioned drubbing. The kind of game where fans go home in the third inning because the score is 12-0 and the Yanks have runners on the corners with none out. After the last week, which felt more like a season unto itself, I think the team and its fans would feel a lot better after a win in the most decisive manner.
They’ll certainly get the chance to do so, as the Mets trot out Fernando Nieve for his first start this season, which will be the 12th of his career. The other 11 came in 2006 for Houston, where he threw 61.2 innings to a 4.67 ERA. He was far more effective out of the bullpen that year, throwing 34.2 innings of 3.38 ERA ball. He threw just 21.2 innings in 2007, all of which came at Houston’s Round Rock AAA affiliate. His season ended early, though, as he underwent Tommy John Surgery in early May of that year.
Nieve made a surprisingly fast return to the mound, as he tossed five innings in Round Rock’s game on April 6, 2008, a hair shy of 11 months from the date of his surgery. He started six games for Round Rock before the Astros moved him to the bullpen, where he appeared three times before his recall on May 16. After four appearances in which Nieve allowed six runs over three innings, including a zero-inning, four-run performance on May 25, the Astros optioned him to AAA again. They recalled him again on September 1, and he pitched fairly well for the rest of the season.
The Astros brought Nieve to camp in 2009 to see if he could compete for a rotation spot. However, it was all or nothing for the 26-year-old, as he was out of options. The Astros placed him on waivers on March 13, and the Mets claimed him on March 15. The Mets then placed him on waivers after he didn’t make the club, but this time he passed through unclaimed, opening the door for his assignment to AA Binghamton.
After five appearances there, four of which were starts, Nieve moved up to AAA, where he started four games. The Mets recalled him last Friday, and he’s made one appearance since, a two-inning relief appearance against the Nationals in which he struck out two and allowed just one hit. This will be his first major league start since June 15, 2006.
Andy Pettitte will try to give the bullpen a rest today, something he hasn’t been able to do over his past few starts. If there was ever a day to do it, Andy, it’s today.
Note: Brian Bruney pitched a scoreless inning today in Trenton in which he threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes. He was hitting 94 on the gun, another good sign. He could be activated as soon as Tuesday. If Brett Tomko isn’t the roster casualty, I’m not sure what the Yanks are thinking.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.