Sep
23

The battle no one wants to win

By

Who wants to join D-Rob in the bullpen this October? (Photo Credit: Flickr user notladj)

With a lineup of All Stars (plus Brett Gardner) and the starting rotation all but set (not necessarily the order), the Yankees don’t have too many decisions to make before the the playoffs begin. The core setup crew is set, so the only thing left to sort out is the spare relievers and the bench. The bench isn’t too big of a deal since those regulars will (should) play every inning in October, but the bullpen isn’t necessarily that easy.

Jack Curry tweeted last night that the team intends to carry an 11-man pitching staff in the playoffs, which is fine. They could probably get away with ten, but there’s certainly no need for a dozen in a short series. Nine of those 11 spots are accounted for: CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and Boone Logan. That leaves five guys fighting for those final two spots: Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Ivan Nova, Javy Vazquez, and Dustin Moseley. We should probably throw Royce Ring into that mix as well since a second lefty specialist would be far more useful than a second longman.

Joe Girardi‘s been riding Gaudin really hard the last two weeks (he’s appeared in six of the last twelve games), so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the righty is getting every opportunity to win one of those spots. Mitre has pitched twice in the past 26 days and as far as I know he didn’t even warm up in last night’s rainy game (in fairness, I suppose Girardi was holding him back in case he needs a longman tonight). One of those two times he pitched came in the last Sabathia-David Price game, and that was only after all the other bullpen options were used up. Moseley is far too hittable (10.7 H/9 career) and doesn’t miss nearly enough bats (4.3 K/9 this year) to warrant any kind of action in a playoff spot, so there’s no sense in even carrying him on the roster.

Javy, well at this point he shouldn’t be pitching any kind of meaningful innings. It’s not that he can’t handle the pressure or anything stupid like that, it’s just that his stuff has deteriorated so much that you can’t trust him to get outs with it. I know he’s pitched well in his few long relief outings late in the year, but I think there’s also too much of a stigma there to take him. That’s probably not fair to him, but it is what it is. The nothingball will be the scapegoat.

Given how well he’s pitched early in his outings, Nova’s going to get one of those last two bullpen spots almost by default, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s been extremely effective early in his outings (.563 OPS against the first time through the order, .731 the second, .952 the third) which suggests he could be effective in one or two inning relief stints. Perhaps he takes over the job as that trusty righty outside of the normal setup crew that Girardi is trying to force feed Gaudin. World Championship teams always have an unexpected reliever step up big in October (hellooo Damaso Marte), so maybe Nova’s that guy this year. We can dream.

In the end, I’d expect Nova and Gaudin to get those final two spots, though a case could be made for Ring as a second lefty (assuming he gets in some more games and pitches well over the next week-and-a-half, of course). Once the Yanks clinch a playoff spot, which will hopefully happen before everyone returns to work on Monday, don’t be surprised if they lift Nova from the rotation and have him pitch out of the bullpen two or three times in the final week of the season just to get acclimated to the role.

So far no one has really stepped up and grabbed one of those spots by the horns. They’re trying their best to give it to Gaudin, but he doesn’t seem to want it (13 baserunners, six runs, three homers in his last 5.2 IP). Mitre can’t even get into a regular season game, never mind a playoff spot, and every time Moseley pitches he shows why the Angels non-tendered him last season. In reality, whoever the Yanks ends up taking probably won’t see much action in the postseason and will be of little consequence, but stranger things have happened.

86 Comments»

  1. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Javy IMO will probably make it. If Guaidn gets that last spot however he better not pitch more than 0.1 innings of meaningful ball. Put him only with a 30 run lead.

  2. Joe Girardi’s been riding Gaudin really hard the last two weeks (he’s appeared in six of the last twelve games), so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the righty is getting every opportunity to win one of those spots.

    And that’s the correct decision, as much as we want to wish it wasn’t.

    Of the five guys you mentioned competing for those last two spots (non-Ring-LOOGY-division), Gaudin — if effective — presents the best and most important individual skillset for rounding out that postseason roster.

    Javy has the most pure talent and ability of the five, but he’s been a mess down the stretch and can’t rediscover his mechanics. So eliminate him. Nova has the best overall stuff and only struggles in turning a lineup over, something he won’t do from the bullpen. Give him one of the two spots.

    That leaves Gaudin, Moseley, and Mitre. Gaudin has to be the favorite for that spot, as you mentioned, because he possesses a skill that Moseley and Mitre don’t: the ability to miss bats. Gaudin’s ability is limited to righties, but his value as a slider-throwing ROOGY is a unique skill that warrants inclusion, just like Peña’s skill at being an LIDR or Golson’s (or Guzman’s last year) skill as an LIDR and pinchrunner.

    All five of those guys have a flaw. Gaudin is the one who presents the most upside. Joe’s giving him an opportunity to harness that upside. It’s the right call.

    I wish Albaladejo was also given an opportunity, but I guess he’s just not viewed that highly anymore.

    I’d say that we’ve probably decided on 10 spots (I make Nova a definite) and it’s just Gaudin v. Ring depending on the ROOGY/LOOGY situations that each opponent team presents (i.e., Ring against the Twins and Rays, Gaudin against the Rangers.)

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I wish Albaladejo was also given an opportunity, but I guess he’s just not viewed that highly anymore.

      Agreed. Albaladejo put up silly numbers in Scranton all year. Maybe he’ll never be a worthy setup man, but it would have been nice to find out.

      • chris c. says:

        “Agreed. Albaladejo put up silly numbers in Scranton all year. Maybe he’ll never be a worthy setup man, but it would have been nice to find out.”

        Well, he certainly didn’t do anything last night to help his cause. He was aweful. He’s just not gonna have enough time to work his way onto the playoff roster.

  3. Steve H says:

    I think it comes down to Nova, Javy and Ring. The other guys provide almost zero upside. The one thing they can do is go 3 or 4 innings, but both Javy and Nova have that covered and Ring can provide a second lefty.

  4. CountryClub says:

    I agree about the audition for Gaudin. But hasn’t he failed it? I mean he hasn’t done anything to make you think that he could get a big out in forced duty in the playoffs.

    • CBean says:

      I mean he hasn’t done anything to make you think that he could get a big out in forced duty in the playoffs.

      Unfortunately no one else has either. I mean, I want it to be Javy because my heart sorta breaks for him, but his stuff hasn’t been where it should be.

  5. tc says:

    You all have just GOT to be kidding me. Gaudin? I don’t want to see him in the tri-state area ever again, let alone pitching in pinstripes, even in a low-stakes situation, never mind the playoffs. And don’t get me started on Mitre. I’d rather have Vazquez. I think it should be Vazquez and Nova, and hope you don’t have to use Vazquez except in a situation where you have a good lead.

    Anyway, I think we all know it’s gonna come down to which offense shows up. Our pitching is just OK, even CC gives up runs so you gotta score. But I like the Yankees chances.

    • nyyank55 says:

      Agree 100%. The guy has no business being on the roster. He and Mitre should be banished form Yankee Stadium forever. Javy and Nova are the clear choices here. Anything else has no merit.

      • Chris says:

        Everyone was saying the same thing about Logan earlier this season. How’s that working out now?

        • chris c. says:

          “Everyone was saying the same thing about Logan earlier this season. How’s that working out now?”

          What kind of comparison is that? Who cares if a guy sucked in May? We’re talking about who should be on the playoff roster in October.

          • Chris says:

            Obviously you missed the point…

            He and Mitre should be banished form Yankee Stadium forever.

            That’s a HUGE over reaction that I was responding to. If a player is never given a chance to succeed or fail, then there is no chance that they’ll succeed. It was that way with Logan earlier this year, and it’s that way with Gaudin/Mitre/Mosely now.

            • chris c. says:

              Are you telling me that Gaudin, Mitre, and Mosely haven’t had the chance to succeed this year? That has to be what you’re saying. I don’t buy it.

              It may have been an overreaction, but they still stink, and they’ve had plenty of chances to prove that they don’t.

    • chris c. says:

      “You all have just GOT to be kidding me. Gaudin? I don’t want to see him in the tri-state area ever again, let alone pitching in pinstripes, even in a low-stakes situation, never mind the playoffs. And don’t get me started on Mitre. I’d rather have Vazquez. I think it should be Vazquez and Nova, and hope you don’t have to use Vazquez except in a situation where you have a good lead.”

      I agree with this 100%!
      Why put pitchers on the post season roster that you fear utilizing? I’d have way less of a problem using Vazquez or Nova in the playoffs out of the pen than Gaudin and Mitre.

  6. Pat D says:

    Wait, Gaudin hasn’t pitched well? I could have sworn I heard Kay say that he had a 2.37 ERA over the last several weeks or something.

    Of course, one pitch later he gave up the first of two home runs, so…

    • zs190 says:

      He was actually pitching pretty well in the mopup role finishing up blowouts or eating innings when we were behind. Not long ago his ERA with the Yankees was in the mid 3′s for about 40 innings with a decent K/BB ratio to boot. Then he was pressed into service in a few high leverage situations and blew up.

      I still think he’s the most logical guy to take as the last guy unless we think Royce Ring is good enough to be a LOOGY(one can argue that he’s not all that useful because our RH relievers are not bad against LH hitters)

      • (one can argue that he’s not all that useful because our RH relievers are not bad against LH hitters)

        That’s only half of the equation, though. While many of our RHRP can retire lefties quite well, many opposing LHB can’t hit LHP at all, so it’s still worth the platoon matchup.

        While I trust Robertson/Wood/Joba to get out a tough lefty, if there’s, say, a Ryan Howard or a Jim Thome up to bat and it’s a natural spot to make a pitching change (say, your starter is in the game and is tiring or one of the aforementioned righty relievers is already in and has thrown 20-30 pitches already), it’s a great idea to increase the odds by making the hitter face a pitcher-handedness he struggles against.

        • zs190 says:

          That’s still debatable though. Ryan Howard and Jim Thome definitely have major platoon issues but they are still pretty decent hitters against LHP (career 767 OPS for Howard v LHP, 773 for Thome). Is it worth it to downgrade our reliever quality from say Joba to Royce Ring to take advantage of the platoon advantage? I don’t know and I’m not sure anyone knows because we have no idea how good Royce Ring is.

          He has been fine in AAA this year but this was his first game in 2+ years in the major leagues. His velocity went from 87-89 a couple years ago to throwing 84-85 last night and he didn’t seem capable of throwing his slider reliably for strikes in the small sample. Is it possible that he’s good against LHP and be worth it? Yes, but we have so little data to go on.

    • chris c. says:

      “Wait, Gaudin hasn’t pitched well? I could have sworn I heard Kay say that he had a 2.37 ERA over the last several weeks or something.”

      Gaudin has an ERA over 7 in the month of September. Keep in mind that Michael Kay has also said that the pitcher with the most wins should automatically win the Cy Young.

  7. Dustin Blowsley says:

    Javy should make it to caddy Burnett, in case bad AJ decides to show up early.

  8. vin says:

    I think Nova makes it for sure. Then Girardi has one of three skillsets to choose from – Gaudin (ROOGY & long man), Ring (LOOGY), Javy (long-er man).

    If Girardi is more concerned about matching up with lefties (Minn.), then they’ll probably go with Ring.

    However, I’m not sure he’ll go with Gaudin against 2-3 consecutive righties in the 6th inning of a playoff game. I don’t think Chad has done enough to prove he can dominate righties (as he did last year).

    I think Javy might get the call if they face Texas. He could be deployed as mop-up man/extra inning guy. He’s got the repetoire for the role, but his stuff is really diminished.

    Since Girardi doesn’t seem to keen on pitching Ring, I doubt they take him. Also, Javy can do everything Gaudin can do, but with a better and longer track record. Javy may not dominate righties, but neither has Gaudin this year. Gaudin just hasn’t done enough to show that he can be used ahead of the more talented relievers.

    • chris c. says:

      “If Girardi is more concerned about matching up with lefties (Minn.), then they’ll probably go with Ring.”

      In case you haven’t noticed, Girardi makes managing look way more difficult than it actually is. Constant paralysis by analysis.

      He’s the kind of guy who goes home and plays chess by himself.

  9. Chris says:

    With a lineup of All Stars (plus Brett Gardner)

    The Yankees have 4 position players in the top 16 in the AL in WAR. And Jeter, Posada, A-Rod and Tex are not any of them.

    5. Cano
    10. Gardner
    13. Swisher
    16. Granderson

  10. Frank1979 says:

    I’m sure this question has been asked before, but can they actually take Royce Ring on the playoff roster? Doesn’t a player have to be with the team before September 1st or something like that?

  11. Yank the Frank says:

    Right now I would say Nova and Javy. But I would like to see Ring pitch more against lefties in the final week and a half and if he is doing the job,take him and drop Javy. A second lefty out of the pen would be nice. Logan may have hit a wall.

  12. It’s slightly annoying that Gaudin will likely make the postseason roster just because the manager seems to like his stuff/attitude/whatever and ignores the actual results of his pitching.

    Really though, I don’t think it’ll matter. If Gaudin ends up pitching in a postseason game, it will mean something has gone horribly wrong or wonderfully right. I highly doubt that we would ever see Gaudin in a one-run game unless there was literally no one else available.

    • It’s slightly annoying that Gaudin will likely make the postseason roster just because the manager seems to like his stuff/attitude/whatever and ignores the actual results of his pitching.

      But the actual results of his pitching have actually been better than those of Moseley, Mitre, and Javy recently.

    • chris c. says:

      “It’s slightly annoying that Gaudin will likely make the postseason roster just because the manager seems to like his stuff/attitude/whatever and ignores the actual results of his pitching.”

      Even funnier, this is the same pitcher that Girardi thought so little of in the postseason last year, that his refusal to utilize him resulted in the manager tossing all three of his starters in the WS on 3 days rest! He was on the WS roster, and didn’t throw a single pitch in the 6 game series! In all three playoff series’ for the Yankees in 2009, he threw a total of 2 innings.

      And since then, his numbers have actually declined…….but now Girardi loves him??

  13. Dream of Electric Sheep says:

    One ring rules them all. I give it to the Royce , and no, not just base on his performance last night. He could possibly fill a need for 2nd lefties in the playoff , I take him base on he could be some of use than the known garbage quantities.

    I take Gaudin over Javy at this point. I have no confidence in Javy’s stuff.

    • chris c. says:

      I take Gaudin over Javy at this point. I have no confidence in Javy’s stuff.

      Honestly, does it really matter which guy Girardi takes? Neither one is a guy you’d want to use anyway. Saying you feel more comfortable taking a guy who’s given up 10 runs in his last 12 innings pitched is like saying you’d trust Lindsay Lohan’s urine sample to come up negative over that of Keith Richards.

  14. Mark says:

    Half kidding. But since we don’t have much of a choice for that last spot. Why not “throw in” Greg Golson as the last man. Heck with his arm and he might be better than the rest. Sure as heck couldn’t be much worse!!
    Now before I can lampbasted, keep in mind, I said I was half kidding…..

  15. Dream of Electric Sheep says:

    so there’s no sense in even carrying him on the roster.
    —————————————–
    I sense a little hate there for Moseley , MIke. He hasn’t been great but he has contributed more than Mitre IMO. Why the fuck is Mitre is on this team? Because they can and it doesn’t matter.

    Give the man some love ,Axisa.

    • zs190 says:

      In what way has Moseley been better? His rate for walk, hr, hit, strikeout plus his ERA are all worse than Mitre. He throws slower, misses bat less, and gets less groundballs too. I don’t see what makes you think Moseley is better than Mitre as a reliever.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep says:

        Mosley has contributed more than Gaudin

        In way that Moseley helped out the Yanks in their rotation during their darkness time this season in which Mitre couldn’t. In ways that G has made clear that Mitre is the last option out of the pen. I am not looking at the peripherals alone here. Mitre’s peripheral all more or less accrued in extreme garbage time and low leverage situations.

  16. It'sATarp says:

    i’ll take nova and Javy’s nothing ball over everyone else. i will be pissed if gaudin makes it over Javy, since even when Javy is having arm problems he’s still a much better option than gaudin.

  17. miami frank says:

    Why even take that extra pitcher in the first series. You only need 3 starters since CC pitches game 1 and 4 on short rest, Andy games 2 and 5 on normal rest with AJ or Hughes game 3 with the other in the bull pen. Now if they continue on then you need 4 starters in the ALCS and an extra short reliever in the WS due to the pitcher being hit for.

  18. Henry says:

    Imo, if we face Minnesota, there is NO DOUBT in my mind that Nova and Ring should be the two to get the nod. Even if we were to face Tex, imho, I’d still rather see those two to get the nod, because if we deploy Logan for Hamilton, I think Ring can be used in case for whatever reason we may need a lefty to face Hamilton in case somehow he were to bat again, or just to get Chris Davis out since he presents at least SOME sort of a threat because he has some pop on his bat.

  19. Dream of Electric Sheep says:

    slightly OT, But I have been thinking about Pena vs Nunez. The the most plausible scenario that either of them would make an appearances in the playoff is pinch running. Would you value Pena’s D over the possible slight marginal upgrade of Nunez’s bat?

    Who would you take?

  20. ZZ says:

    Marte is still in the mix.

    I believe he is throwing this weekend.

  21. Guest says:

    To my mind, the jury’s still out on Nova–not to mention Ring. We have yet to see Nova pitching out of the bullpen. And Ring, he seemed up to the task last night, but who knows. Just no Gaudin or Mitre. Those guys exude looming disaster.

    • chris c. says:

      To my mind, the jury’s still out on Nova–not to mention Ring. We have yet to see Nova pitching out of the bullpen.

      I’d rather have a guy I’ve never seen pitch out of the bullpen than a guy who makes me close my eyes all year when he comes in from the bullpen!

  22. Cecala says:

    The only thing that is on my mind is the fact that will Cashman swallow his pride and allow Javy to be off the playoff roster. If Javy doesn’t make it, his trade will look like a failure or whatever. I just hope the right decision is made or Javy is given a few more BP appearances to straighten up.

    • chris c. says:

      “The only thing that is on my mind is the fact that will Cashman swallow his pride and allow Javy to be off the playoff roster.”

      I hate that the general manager decides who’s on the playoff roster. That is so bogus. Why have a manager, coaches, and scouts, if the GM has that kind of input?

  23. Rob Roser says:

    Is Girardi ever going to figure out that Gaudin sucks?

    Ever?

  24. Kiersten says:

    Crazy thought that probably no one is gonna see cause this post is a few hours old –

    If we go with a 3-man rotation in the DS (as I hope we will) and AJ is not included in that rotation, why does he need to be on the DS roster? Can’t we carry an extra bullpen guy, or an extra utility guy, and the add AJ to the roster for the CS? What purpose does he serve if he’s not starting? I’d certainly hope he wouldn’t come out of the bullpen.

    Of course we know this will never happen, but just a thought.

    • chris c. says:

      “If we go with a 3-man rotation in the DS (as I hope we will) and AJ is not included in that rotation, why does he need to be on the DS roster?”

      Because if we win on a walk-off, who’s gonna be the pie man?
      C’mon, man, that’s important. He’s the Ace of the pie-throwing staff!

      If we get someone else doing it, and the hero only gets pelted in the ear, that’s on you, pal!

  25. RayRay from Tampa Bay says:

    Prepare to get kick in the gut Yankee fans, we gotr Seattle and Kansas City, while you guys face Toronto and Boston

    Enjoy Texas where the Yanks will get Roasted by Cliff Lee

  26. theghostofgeorge says:

    i can’t believe we’re talking about even the possibility of Chad Gaudin making the playoff roster. Chad Gaudin? For Christsakes. Spare me. He’s a two-bit bum that somehow made it on the roster of a $200 million team. Maybe he’s got pictures of Gerardi. I don’t know. He should be pitching to beer bellies in an Industrial League somewhere, not in Yankee Stadium and certainly not in a World Series. If Royce Ring isn’t a better alternative, the kid had better pack it up and stop wasting his time thinking he’s a major-league pitcher. Imagine telling your grand kids that you had a chance to pitch in the World Series but Chad F’king Gaudin made the team instead.

    • chris c. says:

      “i can’t believe we’re talking about even the possibility of Chad Gaudin making the playoff roster. Chad Gaudin? For Christsakes. Spare me. He’s a two-bit bum that somehow made it on the roster of a $200 million team.”

      Take it easy, pal. He’s still a major league pitcher who’s career I would take in a heartbeat. Two-bit bum? What have you accomplished?

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