I think Alex Rodriguez summed up this weekend for the Yankees perfectly with this quote:
“We ran into the green machine over there. They’re dangerous right now. They’re in a situation where they feel that they’re in a game; that they can win every game. We know the feeling.”
You should tip your cap to the A’s, they are playing great baseball right now and the Yankees ran into them at the wrong time.
But, it’s hardly the end of the world as some in New York portray it to be. Losing stinks, but the margin of loss matters and in this case it was one run in every game. Change one play or one decision from the A’s favor to the Yankees and you have a very different series.
Along those lines, I found two decisions by Joe Girardi yesterday to be curious.
First, starting Jason Nix and then bringing in Jeter as a defensive replacement. I get that Jeter needs to be rested, but with Swisher out and a day game after a night game, you already had Wise and Stewart in the lineup. Considering the struggle it was for the Yankees to score runs in the first three games of the series, was a bottom-third of a lineup consisting of Wise, Nix and Stewart a good idea? And, if you have to bring in Jeter for defense, what does that mean?
Second, why pull David Phelps in the 11th? Phelps is the long guy and he threw only 19 pitches. I know Seth Smith had taken Soriano deep in his last AB, but Phelps was dominating hitters. The move worked, Rapada retired Smith, but the move seemed curious to me. Why not let the rookie show you what he can do?
The only answer I could come up with is that Girardi feels he needs Phelps rested for Tuesday when Freddy Garcia takes the mound. I understand that thinking, but it also means the Yankees are starting the wrong guy. Even if Girardi isn’t thinking that way, the Yankees are starting the wrong guy.
Think about it. The chances of the Yankees bringing Garcia back are very, very small. Phelps on the other hand will certainly be back. Now, go one step further and think for minute about the 2013 rotation. Let’s put three spots in pen- Sabathia, Hughes and Nova. If Pineda is healthy, he would certainly merit a spot, but the Yankees cannot plan on him being healthy. Now, you could round out the rotation with Pettitte and Kuroda, assuming they both want to return, but you still would want someone waiting in the wings to cover for any injuries. The most likely guy for that role in 2013 is David Phelps.
But, the Yankees are doing to Phelps what they did to Hector Noesi last year, leaving him on the bench. So far, Phelps has 64 innings of work between the majors and the minors. Yet, in his 45 innings of works in the majors he has shown very good stuff and apart from walking a few too many guys, looks like someone who could be a solid addition to the rotation. He just needs to pitch more.
So, the Yankees have a choice. Keep using him sporadically in a long role, or put him into the fifth spot of the rotation and let him make six or seven starts before Pettitte gets back. It’s not as if Freddy is dominating opponents, so there is little downside. And, if Phelps continues to flourish, the Yankees have another young pitcher they can add to the combo of Hughes and Nova while they continue to pray for Banuelos’ health and Betances command to return.