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Girardi to go with Phelps over Nova

10/01/2012 5:26 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Rookie David Phelps has earned his chance to pitch in a big game with postseason ramifications.(AP)
With the Yankees holding only a one-game lead over the Orioles in the division, Joe Girardi is not taking any chances. He's treating the final games in the Red Sox series as “must wins,” even though the team has already clinched a spot in the 2012 postseason. The new postseason format has put a premium on winning the division, and Girardi is treating it as such.

Girardi announced that Ivan Nova has been pulled from the rotation in favor of David Phelps, who will start against Boston on Tuesday. The Yankees need more consistency, according to the manager, and Nova has been anything but consistent since the All-Star break. In fact, after a 10-3 first half with a 3.92 ERA, Nova has been atrocious. In the second half of the season, he is 2-5, with a 7.05 ERA, and opponents are hitting .309 against him.

On the flip side, Phelps has started 10 games for the Yankees, going 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA, and opponents are only hitting .240 against him in those starts. Looking deeper into his 32 appearances, opponents are only hitting .226 against him in 2012. Phelps has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees, and now with the division on the line, Girardi is going with what he thinks will be the better option at this point.

With the way Nova has pitched recently, Girardi knows that he would have been on a short leash. This move allows Girardi to also have more confidence in his starter and not panic to call for a quick hook.

This may be a sign that Nova may not pitch again the rest of the season.

Mark Teixeira is back

The Yankees lineup just got deeper at the right time. Mark Teixeira is back for the Yankees and it couldn't have come at a better time. Teixeira not only provides terrific defense at first, but being a switch hitter obviously gives the Yankees a whole other dimension in the middle of their order.

"It's the first time we'll have our whole lineup for a long time, which is really good," Girardi said before Monday's win. "It gives you the ability not to stack left-handers, which is something that we've had to fight, and at times, we've been vulnerable to that."

The Yankees have been, as Girardi said, “vulnerable” against left-handed pitching without Teixeira. This season he is hitting .276 with 10 home runs in the middle of the order against lefties.

In his first game back, Teixeira blasted a two-run homer. The Yankees are hoping to ease him back into the order. After getting injured on Aug. 27, he forced his way back into the lineup on Sept. 8 and reinjured himself.

Hal Steinbrenner talks

Hal Steinbrenner gave Joe Girardi and his staff a vote of confidence. He said that no matter how this turns out, “Jobs are not riding on this.”

The Yankees have been riddled with injuries all season, and even though the Yankees squandered a 10-game lead in the AL East, Steinbrenner and company feel that the team has done enough to warrant the 2009 World Series-winning manager to return with his full staff in 2013, which is a very fair assessment.

Good news for the Yankees

In the first game of this series, Bobby Valentine announced that both Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury would not be available to play on Monday night. And now, according to reports, Pedroia is out for the rest of the season with a fractured left ring finger.

So far, there's no word on whether Ellsbury will play in the final two games, but the Red Sox lineup is very weak, with heavy hitters like Pedroia and David Ortiz gone.

 

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