Shane Greene and the staff of opportunity



When the Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks yesterday, they threw their rotation temporarily out of whack. Nuno and McCarthy were not scheduled to start on the same day — Nuno was supposed to start tonight’s series opener against the Indians while McCarthy lines up start tomorrow on normal rest — so the club has to dig up a spot starter. Not a huge deal, just something they have to deal with. (McCarthy will get an extra day of rest and make his Yankees debut on Wednesday, partly so Masahiro Tanaka can start as scheduled Tuesday and make two starts before the All-Star break.)

That spot start will go to right-hander Shane Greene, the Yankees announced. He will be on normal rest after last pitching for Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday. I assume Jim Miller will be dropped from the roster to clear a spot rather than Bruce Billings simply because Billings is stretched out and can go 100+ pitches if necessary. The bullpen is pretty taxed and keeping the extra long man around sure seems like a good idea.

Greene made his MLB debut earlier this season and it was a disaster — five batters faced, three walks, three unearned runs, one out — though that came after a few weeks of being jerked between the show and Triple-A. That appearance came on April 24th and up to that point he had thrown only thrown 2.2 innings and 52 pitches during the regular season. Add in the usual MLB debut jitters and it’s easy to understand why he was wild.

That will not be the case tonight, at least hopefully not. Greene has been making a regular turn in the RailRiders rotation for weeks now, so he is fully stretched out and able to go through his usual routine. No irregular pitching schedule, no sitting in the bullpen for weeks on end, nothing like that. Greene’s overall numbers in Triple-A are not all that good (4.61 ERA and 3.39 FIP) but he has been much better of late, allowing six earned runs (1.93 ERA) with a 23/10 K/BB in 28 innings across his last five starts.

If Greene can come up and give the Yankees the bare minimum quality start (three runs, six innings), I’ll be thrilled. I’m sure the team would be as well, considering how things have been going for most of the rotation. Six innings from someone other than Tanaka feels like a minor miracle these days. The rotation after Greene is a little unsettled at the moment. Tanaka will start Tuesday and McCarthy on Wednesday, but Thursday’s starter is officially listed as TBA. That’s Chase Whitley‘s spot.

“Right now [Whitley will] be in the bullpen until we get this ironed out,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings following yesterday’s game. “If we don’t need him out of the bullpen, he could start again for us. A lot of this depends on tomorrow … Every opportunity is an opportunity to shine and get more opportunities.”

Whitley. (Presswire)

Whitley. (Presswire)

If Whitley isn’t need out of the bullpen these next few days, he’ll make the start on Thursday. If they do need him, David Phelps would presumably move up and start Thursday on normal rest. Then they’d need a spot starter for Saturday (Hiroki Kuroda goes Friday), which could be Greene again. Point is, the bullpen is such a mess right now that Whitley could wind up pitching in relief at some point soon. I’m guessing that’s something that wouldn’t happen or even be considered if he hadn’t gotten destroyed in his last three starts. If he was still pitching like he was a few weeks ago, he’d remain in the rotation no questions asked.

So now, even with McCarthy theoretically providing some stability in place of Nuno, the Yankees still have one questionable rotation spot in Whitley. The All-Star break is coming next week and that will give the team a much-needed chance to catch its collective breath and reset the staff, but beyond that the job should be considered up for grabs. If Greene pitches well tonight, he could very well assume that rotation spot with Whitley, the career reliever, remaining in the bullpen. Girardi said it himself: “every opportunity is an opportunity to shine and get more opportunities.”

The benefit to keeping Greene in the rotation is potentially two-fold. One, it would improve the rotation compared to what Whitley has given them the last three times out. That’s the only way Greene would remain in the rotation anyway, if he pitches well enough to get another chance. Two, Whitley has been a reliever his entire life, so it’s a familiar role for him, plus now he’s stretched out. He could step in and serve as another two or three-inning guy for the middle innings. That would be a huge improvement over the Miller/Jose Ramirez/Matt Daley revolving door we’ve seen lately.

The Yankees have taken some steps to shake up their roster over the last week or so, specifically replacing Yangervis Solarte, Alfonso Soriano, Ramirez, and Nuno with McCarthy, Miller, Billings, and Zelous Wheeler. The Miller and Billings moves are only temporary, plus the team will need to call up another position player to replace Soriano in the coming days, so the shakeup isn’t complete. Outside of a handful of spots at the top of the rotation and in the back of the bullpen, the current pitching staff is full of opportunity. If you pitch well, you’ll get a chance to remain with the team and play a role. Whitley has done it already and now it’s Greene turn to try to carve out a niche for himself.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    Expect full-on prospect panic from readership before Thursday. I mean, if not Whitley, who in the blue hell actually in this organization makes that start?

    Prove me wrong, Mr. Greene. I’m not very bullish on you tonight.

  2. Looser trader droids FotD™ says:

    I’m more of a Staff of Ra guy myself.

  3. Cheddard Whitley says:

    Greene is in big trouble tonight. The Yankees never hit Masterson, especially in Cleveland, and tonight will be no different. Whitley’s done. He’s a 3-4 inning pitcher and that’s why Joe will use Huff for 3 in all of Chase’s starts.

    One great starter in Tanaka, two solid starters in Hiroki and BGDP, hopefully McCarthy gives us a solid 4 and they need one more. It ain’t Chase and it ain’t Greene. They need another starter.

    • JLC 776 says:

      “Betances is a complete failure – yet another pitcher this organization failed to develop. We’ve seen all we need already.” – pretty much what a lot of people were saying following Dellin’s disastrous debut’s in 2011 and 2013.

      I’m not saying Shane Greene is going to be anything great, but for the love of God, give the kid a chance.

    • ChuckIt says:

      Never fear ! McCann is DHing tonight!With Cervelli in the line up too,Masterson will be knocked out by the ninth!

  4. Chip says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Greene turns into a league-averageish starter. I mean 7.5 K/9 2.5 BB/9 and a mid 40ish GB percentage is basically what he’s been the past couple of seasons before he got jerked around to start this one.

    • emac2 says:

      I think Greene will be fine and Whitley should be sent down to remain fully stretched out while he regains his control. I’m pretty confident he’s about as productive as McCarthy.


      Keep looking for a starter via trade to replace whoever fails.

  5. pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero) says:

    Bring on Nick (.197) Swisha!!

    • willie w says:


      what a joke on humanity pro sports have become

  6. mustang says:


    The man usually makes his trades in bunches and rumor has it that he came in second on Jeff Samardzija to me that means he is shopping a strong package.
    Even with Whitley struggles it seem a bit odd for Girardi to let be know that he is in the pen.

  7. mick taylor says:

    if cliff lee and burnett become available, what would it take to get either

  8. tom says:

    Unfortunately, once Greene gives up 2 or 3 runs Girardi will pull him out much earlier than 6th inning.

    Masterson has pitched strongly at home. That would put Greene on the short leash right before the game begins.

  9. Danny says:

    Wonder if we see Mitchell pitch

  10. Not an ace says:

    I got your staff of opportunity right here.

  11. McCarthy says:

    Pitching wins playoff games, but offense gets you to the playoffs. Can we get some analysis on potential targets they should be making offensively? Even when we had TANAK/CC/Pineda healthy this team still failed to score runs. To me that is the bigger hole they need to fill in order to get to October.

  12. willie w says:

    Yoenis Cespedes is one of the many all stars that the yanks could have signed as free agents
    but they prefer to overpay for over rated players or over the hill players

    • Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero) says:

      Yanks were turned off by his beach workouts and frog jumps (was that what they were called?). Did not think they would translate well to mlb success. They were wrong. Dude rakes in the sand and the grass and the dirt. 5 tools.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      How about this: You go and write up an analysis of every single player that changed teams since 2005 and tell me how Cashman failed on both every single one of them as well as petitioning MLB to expand the Yankee roster (only) to 389.

      Get to it, Flapjack.

    • McCarthy says:

      Totally, they shouldn’t have signed TANAK. Your logic is flawless.

    • tom says:

      Yankees’ big IFA signings


      Orlando Hernandez
      Hideki Matsui
      Masahiro Tanaka (Pending)


      Kei Igawa
      Hideki Irabu (RIP)

      Any else I miss?

  13. the Other Steve S. says:

    Javier Vasquez is only 37 years old and very well rested. I just checked and he has earned an unbelievable $99,410,000 in his career. Maybe he would sign up and try to get it over $100 million.

  14. tom says:

    It seems the latest maintenance of this site had made bad turn. Season Preview article remembered me as someone’s login address as I “forgot” logout. I don’t have any login address for this site. I wasn’t able to log out for someone’s sake.

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