The lone bright spot in last night's absolute stink pot of a game was the Major League debut of Vidal Nuno. After being released from the Cleveland Indians' A-ball affiliate following the 2010 season, Nuno has worked himself up through five levels of the Yankee MiL system in just a little over two seasons and put himself in a position to capitalize on an opportunity when Ivan Nova went on the DL. While so many people focus on what Nuno isn't when labeling him an automatic non-prospect, I put more stock into what he is when I evaluated him and included him in this year's AB4AR Top 30 (30th spot). He might not be big, he might not throw hard, and he might not have devastating offspeed stuff, but he's still before his prime at age 25, he throws strikes, he has outstanding command, and his offspeed stuff is just good enough to strike a fair amount of batters out. As a lefty, that's not a bad skill set to possess.
Nuno's greatest quality, at least as it relates to the current Yankee roster, might be his flexibility. That ability to pitch in multiple scenarios, paired with the aforementioned left-handedness, could make Nuno a very versatile bullpen piece for Joe to use as he sees fit.
The good news is that the MRI on Kevin Youkilis' back came back clean yesterday, so at least there's no serious damage to it that could cause it to be a definite lingering issue. The bad news is that the team still elected to give him an epidural today, and chances are he's still going to end up on the 15-day DL.
I imagine the hope is that the DL stint and epidural will be enough to get Youkilis' back back to 100%, but if he's getting an epidural after the MRI didn't show anything, that's a big red flag for me and leads me to believe that his back WILL continue to be a lingering issuemoving forward. With his back clearly not good enough to play right now, it makes the decision to put Youkilis back in the lineup on Saturday look really bad. Now instead of backdating his DL stint to last week when he first went out of the lineup, it will have to start from Saturday. Don't know what Joe was thinking there.
** UPDATE 2:14 PM- The Yankees announced earlier that Youkilis will indeed take a trip to the 15-day DL to rest his ailing back. Corban Joseph has been called up to take his place on the active roster. **
You couldn't have scripted a better situation for the Yankees to continue their winning streak coming into last night. Worst team in baseball as the opponent, playing at home, and Andy Pettitte and his giant bag of "crafty veteran" tricks on the mound to school the glorified Quad-A Houston Astros lineup. You hate to get cocky, but that's a slam dunk.
- Unless, of course, you just flat don't show up the way the Yankees didn't show up through 4 innings. It started when Andy gave up 3 1st-inning runs after getting 2 outs and 6 pitches and it never stopped.
- The lineup managed just 1 hit and 2 GIDPs in the first 3 innings and barely made Houston starter Lucas Harrell work, as he needed just 37 pitches to groundball them to death.
- Pettitte just never found anything in the next few innings, continuing to miss up with cutters and sliders and giving up a lot of hard contact. Mercifully, his night ended with 1 out in the 4th after 7 ER and 10 hits. Strange to see him pitch that shitty against such an inferior opponent.
- It didn't get better for the offense. They grounded into 2 more DPs in the 4th and 7th innings, but at least they managed to push a run across in the 6th on a Vernon Wells single to not get blanked.
- Adam Warren was pretty terrible in relief of Pettitte, and he gave way to the recently called up Vidal Nuno. It was just mop-up duty, but Nuno looked pretty good in his 3 innings of work, allowing 0 runs on 4 hits and striking out 2.
- Just an awful night all around, the kind of game you have to wash off of yourself in the shower.