Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ManBan Passes The Test

(Courtesy of The AP)

I know that Mitre had a sore oblique yesterday so he wasn't going to pitch, and I know Banuelos was scheduled to pitch yesterday regardless, but let's be honest, yesterday was a test for Manny against the Red Sox.  It was a measuring stick for the Yankees to compare his sparkling results so far to his results in a "pressure" situation against some of the best hitters in the American League.  And in my opinion, ManBan passed the test with flying colors.

The final line doesn't look all that impressive: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 0 R, 2 K, 53 pitches, 28 for strikes.  But the true value in Banuelos' outing was shown in his ability to work through the problems he created for himself last night.  He was obviously a little juiced up after finding out he was going to face the Sawx on short notice, and his trademark command wasn't there in his 2+ innings of work.  He got into a lot of deep counts and worked the bases loaded in the 2nd inning.  But after that, Banuelos bore down and made pitches to get himself out of the inning unscathed with back-to-back groundouts.  And then he had the stones to throw a 3-2 changeup to Kevin Youkilis to get the K on his last pitch of the night.  That's pretty damn impressive in its own right, no matter how old a pitcher is.

His stuff wasn't as sharp as we've seen, nor was his command.  He wasn't dominating in any sense of the word.  But for a 20-year-old facing the everyday Boston Red Sox lineup, Banuelos was very impressive.  His ability to stay composed and make pitches when he had to is something rare in someone so young, especially when you consider the fact that the Yankees have a 34-year-old in their rotation who STILL can't do that on a consistent basis.

Nothing about Manny's outing last night will change the Yankees' plan for him this year, and it shouldn't.  But make no mistake, this was more than just a pitcher subbing in for someone because of injury.  This was the Yankees taking the ST arm floaties of a Pirates split-squad team off of Manny and tossing him into the deep end of the talent pool to see how he could handle it.  And he didn't just float, he kicked and paddled and made his way from one side of the pool to the other.  It doesn't mean much for the current rotation, but it certainly made the future look a little brighter.

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