Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Nova Needs To Work On

(Courtesy of Reuters)

With his 15-day DL stint winding down and the make-up doubleheader against Cleveland scheduled for Monday, the prevailing thought is that Ivan Nova will be activated to pitch one of those games.  Joe didn't fully commit to it before last night's game, acknowledging that the team would first want to make sure Nova came through today's ExST outing without issue before making the decision.  Assuming the reports from that outing all come back positive, however, the combination of timing and situation makes too much sense for it not to happen.

Nova wasn't pitching particularly well prior to hitting the DL.  Joe's short leash was a clear indication that he had lost confidence in Nova, and rumblings had already started about the security of Ivan's rotation spot.  A return to pitch in a situation of need like a doubleheader is not a guarantee that Nova will get his rotation spot back, especially if he pitches poorly, but assuming he will be back and David Phelps is heading back to the bullpen here's what Nova needs to do to nail down that spot.

Where Was Brett Gardner Last Night?

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

To not see Brett Gardner's name included in last night's lineup was more than a bit surprising.  There hadn't been any reports of him being sick or injured, the team was coming off a scheduled off-day for travel and had actually had 2 scheduled off-days in the last 5 calendar days, they were playing in the notoriously offense-friendly Coors Field, and Gardner has been the best defensive player and one of the best all-around players on the team so far this season.  Yet there he was, plopped on the bench while Joe elected to send arguably the weakest lineup of the season out there to play, not score, and lose.

Joe's explanation for this decision was, as you'd expect, matchups.  The Yankees were facing another left-handed starter last night in Jorge De La Rosa, and Joe wanted to put another righty bat in the lineup.  Unfortunately, the only available righty bat on the bench is Ben Francisco and that's where the decision making train starts to come off the tracks of logic.

Game 31 Wrap-Up: COL 2 NYY 0

("Little help here, guys?"  Courtesy of the AP)

Well this'll be something, huh?  A battered Yanks team kicked off an 8 game/7 day road trip in Colorado last night with one of the saddest lineups they've put on the field to date.  No Gardner, no Hafner, Nix batting 2nd, Francisco 5th, Nelson 7th, and Hiroki Kuroda hitting 9th and pitching as per the woefully outdated NL rules.  If there was a game setting the Yanks up for a poor stretch of games it was last night, and they didn't disappoint (or did they?).  0 runs and just 4 hits against Colorado pitching in what was one of the lamest 2-run games you'll ever see.

Game Notes:

- For as much as he talked about not liking pitching at Coors Field, Kuroda looked good early.  He was efficient, strong with his 4-seamer, and needed just 58 pitches to get through 4 scoreless.

- His offense wasn't doing much to help him through those innings.  Jayson Nix was stranded at second in the top of the 1st, then stranded Ichiro at third in the 3rd after Ichiro stole 2 bases.  The Yanks tried to create chances by stealing bases, but there weren't many and they didn't capitalize on any of them.

- Kuroda made one mistake on the night and one was all it took to lose the game.  With a runner on first and 2 outs in the 6th, he threw a 3-2 fastball right down the middle to Carlos Gonzalez.  Gonzalez hit it for a 2-run HR and that was the ballgame.

- If you're looking for small victories, Shawn Kelley managed to not give up a home run in his 1 inning of relief work behind Kuroda in the 8th.