Sunday, April 24, 2011

How Close Is Kevin Millwood To Joining The Yankee Rotation?

Of all the WTF-eliciting pitching signings this season, the most bizarre has to be the recent signing of Kevin Millwood,a guy the Yankees looked at multiple times and decided they didn't see anything they liked and a guy who the rest of MLB said the same thing about when he didn't end up getting one offer to join a team before the season started.

After they did sign him, Millwood justified everybody's lack of interest early by looking downright awful in his first couple of MiL outings.  His fastball was sitting low-to-mid-80s, his secondary stuff was nonexistent, and he seemed like he'd be out of a Yankee uniform before he even had a chance to wear on.  Then he had a solid start in Double-A, earned a call up to Triple-A for another start last night, and wouldn't you know it, the old bag of crap actually pitched alright.

"The 36-year-old right-hander allowed two runs across seven innings of work, striking out three and getting nine ground balls against just one walk and three air outs. Sixty of his 95 pitches were strikes (63.2%). Donnie Collins spoke to a scout who clocked Millwood at 85-86 mph mostly, though he did touch 89 on occasion." (via RAB).

Not a bad outing, but still some causes for concern.  The velocity still isn't there, it's even lower than Phil Hughes' has been, which could get Millwood into trouble if his secondary stuff isn't there and his fastball location is a little bit off.  The fact that he put the leadoff runner on in every inning also doesn't bode well for his future in the Majors, if he has one.  You make mistakes like that in Triple-A with diminished stuff, you give up a couple runs; you make mistakes like that against the Fraud Sawx or the White Sox, you get lit up.

Millwood has time for one more outing before his opt-out clause kicks in, and although he hasn't lit the world on fire in his auditions, the fact that the Yankees keep throwing him out there against better competition and the fact that he hasn't completely blown up leads me to believe he's going to get a shot with the Yankees after his next Triple-A start.  The Yankees have been pushing Ivan Nova back in the rotation due to all the rain delays, so he appears to be falling out of favor with Joe early.  Unless he comes back strong in his next start and looks more like he did in his first outing of the season, Millwood will probably be taking his spot next time around.  Is it the right move?  Hard to say without having seen Millwood against big league hitters yet.  But it does show just how desperate the Yankees already are for starting pitching.

(P.S.- Did anybody have Garcia, Colon, AND Millwood in the same Yankee rotation at any time this season in their office pool?  I know I sure as hell didn't.)

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