It seems like every time the Yankees have a winning streak snapped this season, they just start up another one. They’ll look to do that today against the Jays. They had Roy Halladay on the mound last night, and when he’s on there’s really no stopping him. That a lesser pitcher is on the mound clearly bodes well for the Yankees this afternoon.
That lesser pitcher is Brett Cecil. Toronto drafted him with the 37th pick in the 2007 draft out of the University of Maryland. He was a closer there, starting just six games in his two years as a Terp. The Jays thought he had good stuff, and knowing that starters are more valuable than relievers, immediately converted him, giving him 13 starts in low-A ball after the draft.
After pitching 112 innings between college and pro ball in 07, Cecil touched three levels in 2008: A+, AA, and AAA. He pitched well at each stop and racked up 108.2 innings. He started this year at Las Vegas, where the hitter-friendliness of the Pacific Coast League seemingly caught up with him. His ERA ballooned to 5.69 over his 49 inning there, and his strikeout rate fell precipitously.
With their rotation one by one hitting the DL, the Jays called up Cecil to start against the Indians on May 5. He had three good starts to open his career, including an eight-inning, zero-run performance against Oakland in his second start. Since then he’s been a mixed bag, having some excellent starts mixed with some absolute clunkers.
One of those clunkers came against the Yankees, back on July 5. Joba Chamberlain also pitched horribly, but the Yanks got enough off Cecil and B.J. Ryan* to win the game. Cecil allowed seven runs on nine hits and five walks over 3.2 innings. The Yanks could sure use some of that hittin’ today.
* The Jays released Ryan after that appearance, adding to the list of pitchers who were released after the Yankees hammered them.
The Yanks look for some help from old-time stopper Andy Pettitte. I remember watching games back in the day, during Pettitte’s first stint with the team, and the commentators always noting his incredible record in games following Yankee losses. He’ll get a chance to improve on that today. It will be his first September start after a mind-blowing August, where he was 6-0 — 6-0! — with a 2.50 ERA. And that included the rough five-inning start against Boston.
Joe Girardi has expressed his desire to rest all of his starters down the stretch, but it seems that no one has rested more than Johnny Damon. He gets another day off today against the lefty Cecil. Curiously, Eric Hinske gets another start, so it doesn’t seem to just be a platoon thing for Damon. Keeping him fresh for the playoffs is of the utmost importance.
Oh, and Josh Towers has joined the team. He’ll work in long relief to start, possibly getting a spot start later in the month. I’m wondering if Jason Hirsh makes his way up soon enough, but that would require finagling another 40-man spot. The Yanks released Kevin Cash to make room for Towers.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.