Game 80: Subway Series

Here’s the starting lineup…

Nick Swisher, RF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Andruw Jones, LF
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Ivan Nova, SP

First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Aside: I’ll be at all three games this weekend, though I got to the park too late today to sit in on Joe Girardi‘s and Brian Cashman‘s pregame press conference. Figures Cashman won’t be here the next two days. Stupid Whitestone Bridge. Anyway, I’ll have pre and postgame notes all weekend long, plus more.

Chavez strains back during rehab

Eric Chavez strained his back rehabbing from his foot injury, a setback that will keep him on the shelf even longer than expected. It’s unclear when he’ll be able to come back now, it depends on the severity of the strain of course. Might be time for the Yankees to look for a left-handed hitter off the bench, no?

Hughes not included in next week’s pitching probables

Joe Girardi announced this afternoon that A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova will start early next week in Cleveland, meaning Phil Hughes is likely to make at least one more rehab start in the minors. He last pitched on Wednesday, so he would have lined up for Burnett’s start on Monday. Hughes looked very good last time out, but it’ll the important thing is how he rebounds from emptying the tank. You’d rather see how he does in the minors instead of a game that counts.

The Mythical Six Man Rotation

Might Nova draw the short straw? (Photo Credit: Flickr user Marianne O'Leary via Creative Commons license)

Given the state of the rotation heading into Spring Training, it’s hard to believe that we can sit here on July 1st and say that the Yankees have too many starting pitchers. I guess that’s what happens when you catch lightning in a bottle with not one but two retreads, and the untested rookie exceeds relatively modest expectations. Bartolo Colon will come off the disabled list tomorrow following a brief battle with a sore hamstring, and Phil Hughes figures to be activated sometime in the next week after missing all but three (awful) starts with shoulder inflammation. That makes six guys for five spots.

Prior to yesterday’s game against the Brewers, Joe Girardi said a six-man rotation was “something we’re going to think about,” mentioning that it’s easier said than done. “Do we feel a guy needs an extra-day off? Do you skip a guy just to give him a little extra rest in one spot? There’s just some different things that you could do to be creative with the rotation if you do a six-man. Do, all of a sudden, you need one guy in the bullpen because your bullpen was fried the day before? Those are all things you have to consider if you do that. It’s all things we have to figure out in the next couple of days. It’s somewhat complicated, but we need to figure it out.”

Six-man rotations are great in theory, but very rarely are they put into practice (this year’s White Sox are an obvious exception). It seems to me that the most creative thing the Yankees could do is roll with a modified six-man rotation, one in which CC Sabathia starts on traditional five-day rest regardless of whose turn it is to pitch. That way you maximize the number of starts CC makes, which is never a bad idea. If Colon comes back from the disabled list throwing like he was earlier in the year, then it’s probably a good idea to start him every five days as well.

That leaves the other four guys making sporadic starts around Colon and Sabathia. Could be six days rest this turn through the rotation and eight days next time. Pitchers are creatures of habit and like to have a set routine between starts, and the variable rest will only disrupt that. Perhaps they could come up with some kind of weird tandem starter system, where every five days two starters are combining to throw all nine innings. The first guy throws the first five innings, and the next guy finishes it off. They could even alternate roles every other starts. Sounds great on paper, but that’s one of those things that’ll never ever ever work in a Major League game.

The Yankees are in a tough but enviable position. They have some surprising pitching depth, even if half of the rotation only figures to pitch like a four or five starter. The easiest move would be to demote Ivan Nova – either to the bullpen or to Triple-A so he can remain stretched out – since he’s the kid with those precious minor league options. Is it fair? No, probably not. Nova’s pitched well of late and doesn’t really deserve to lose his spot, but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’d hate to see the Yankees mess around with Colon and/or Garcia when there might be only so many bullets left in those arms.

Ultimately, this is just a temporary situation. Something will happen, most likely sooner rather than later, that will take someone out of the rotation, be it injury or poor performance or both. These things always have a way of taking caring of themselves, I promise you. The depth looks great now but before you know it it’ll be gone, and all this talk of a six man rotation will look silly. I say just send Nova down, it’s the simplest and cleanest move. Don’t worry, he’ll be back before long.

Soriano, Feliciano both throw off mound

Via Bryan Hoch, both Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano threw off a mound in Tampa today. The former threw 32 pitches, the latter 30 soft tosses. I’m guessing that we’ll see Soriano throw a few more bullpens before facing batters in a simulated game, then he’ll head out on a rehab assignment. His rehab stint shouldn’t be all that long since he’s just a one inning reliever. Either way, Soriano’s not eligible to come off the disabled list until after the All-Star break, so he has time. Feliciano still was a long way to go.