(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Sunday afternoon Masahiro Tanaka allowed a career high three home runs and tied his mark of seven runs in five innings as the New York Yankees headed to an early loss against the Detroit Tigers. Monday night, Michael Pineda, the Yankees most effective pitcher was not any better as New York lost the opening of a three game series to the Philadelphia Phillies 11-8.
So in two games, and with supposedly the most reliable tandem on the mound, manager Joe Girardi must be wondering are these the arms that can be depended on to win a mediocre AL east division? In two straight games Yankees pitching gave up a combined 23 runs, and CC Sabathia who at times shows some signs of becoming an ace again will get the ball Tuesday night in the Bronx.
The good news, assuming Sabathia can’t get the job done, is the return of Ivan Nova Wednesday afternoon, his first start in over a year since undergoing Tommy John Surgery. And there is always a concern about the 35-year old Sabathia and his history of elbow and knee issues.
But the Yankees need to get more consistent on the mound if they are serious about not missing the postseason a third straight year. The Phillies, a team last in baseball in runs scored, probably wish Pineda was on the mound every time they take the field.
Pineda had no command. The slider which helped him compile 16 strikeouts a month ago against the Orioles, and had him throw six no-hit innings against the Marlins last Wednesday night in the Bronx, was not visible. The eight runs allowed in 3.11 innings, 11-hits and a home run ball took the Yankees quickly out of another ballgame.
Now the questions are about Tanaka and Pineda. Are there concerns about a Tanaka elbow that is being overworked and headed to eventual surgery? And is Pineda once again feeling effects of a bad right shoulder that put him twice on the disabled list the past two years?
“It’s hard to tell,” said Pitching coach Larry Rothschild regarding any impact on Pineda of a 116- pitch count performance in that game against the Orioles.
He added, “His last time out, he was as good as he was probably at any time. I don’t know that we can have the answer to that. I don’t think it’s the case, but there’s no way to know if it is or isn’t.”
However, Girardi and Rothschild need to get some answers, and they have to come soon. There has been some discussion about Girardi going to a six-man pitching rotation and that may not work because pitchers are creatures of habit and need that consistency.
And, at the moment the most reliable and consistent starter has been Adam Warren who recorded his fifth win of the season in a Yankees 7-2 win over the Tigers Friday night. Also keep in mind that has been a surprise, because Warren was supposed to be the odd man out and designated to bullpen duty.
But there has been a change of events. and the unexpected that should have the Yankees brass in some type of panic mode. Though not even a half of the season has yet to be played, there is plenty of time to get the pitching issues addressed.
Girardi is not in that panic mode, and you can’t blame him because the one question was the offense and the Yankees have had no issue hitting home runs. His team is second in baseball with the long ball as Brett Gardner and Brian McCann put the Yankees back in a game that saw the Phillies get a season high in runs and in hits.
Pineda said he is healthy and there are no issues. Girardi has his reasons why the right-hander, 8-4, had a bad evening on the mound.
“It’s been kind of up and down, and that’s hard to figure out,” Girardi said. “Sometimes they just go through stretches like that, the starters, and then they’ll reel off six or seven good ones in a row. You’ve got to make pitches every time you go out. That’s the bottom line. Tonight he just didn’t.”
Girardi added, “It starts with your starting pitching.” Indeed it does and if he and Rothschild don’t find answers for consistency that leads to more questions and a prevailing one:
How far will the Yankees get to October without good starting pitching that is needed to get there?
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