Girardi adamant that Yankees will stay on rotation

Manager won't skip Vidal Nuno's turn or bump lefty from rotation just yet
06/26/2014 9:45 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Vidal Nuno will start Friday, and Joe Girardi says he will continue to do so every fifth day for the time being.(AP)
Vidal Nuno will start Friday night's series opener with Boston at Yankee Stadium, staying in the rotation despite a 7.09 home ERA, a 5.88 overall mark, and a clip of one home run allowed roughly every three innings (13 in 39 1/3 frames, to be exact) pitched at home.

Joe Girardi has been adamant about the fact that the Yankees will "stay on rotation" for more than two weeks now, and after Nuno's last start, he actually praised the lefty in an off-handed way.

"He made some mistakes. He gave up the four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, and a lot of nights that will give you a chance to win a game," the skipper said after Saturday's loss to Baltimore, "but we just didn't score any runs so it probably looks worse than it was."

To his credit, Nuno at least knows what he needs to do; he professed before Saturday's start that he needed to find his cutter and command his fastball better, and acknowledged afterwards that all three home runs he allowed were on fastballs that were supposed to sink but instead stayed up.

The skipper stands behind him in that regard too, hoping the lefty can adjust that big bug-a-boo.

"When he makes mistakes they're hitting them out of the ballpark. He's somewhat of a fly ball pitcher, so when you make mistakes up in the middle of the zone, it's probably going to leave the park here," Girardi said of the home run problem, adding that "for me, (Nuno's best chance) is him keeping the ball in the ballpark and getting some quick outs."

But, when defending the decision to keep Nuno in the rotation once again after Sunday's loss, Girardi finally brought up two very salient points that no one seemed to look into, the first being the effect that simply skipping Nuno this turn because of Thursday's off-day could have on the rest of the rotation.

To Girardi, not skipping Nuno means Masahiro Tanaka (and everyone else down the line) will get an extra day's rest, which benefits the team not only in the short-term, but also in the long-term as well.

"It's not just (Tanaka); you have Kuroda who's 39, you have Whitley who has (now 20) career starts under his belt, Phelps threw 115 pitches (last Thursday)…you have to be careful with all your pitchers' workloads, or else they won't be worth a hill of beans in August and September," Girardi said. "I think you have to be smart about this, and then we're going to run into a point where you play a bunch of games in a row - do you really want your starters to go out there without a chance for extra rest? A lot is made of Tanaka, but there's a lot of other people who could use an extra day."

And with that said, the skipper brought out a second point, all but officially ruling out Adam Warren as a rotation possibility simply by noting how the timing of the move wouldn't necessarily be beneficial.

"I know there's been a ton of discussion on Warren, but there's two things you have to worry about: how do you build him up - because it's going to take a while, and by then one of your injured pitchers might be back - and then, you're taking a very strong component of your bullpen away," he said. "In a sense, you're robbing Peter to pay Paul. Adam has been able to help us two or three times every five days, and (if you move him to the rotation) you're only going to get it once."

Of course, sticking with Nuno for now doesn't mean that GM Brian Cashman is not looking for help; as Girardi reiterated Sunday, he knows the front office is always looking to upgrade the team, whether from within or externally, but for now, it's a matter of "do the best you can with what you have."

"Our guys have done a pretty good job on the whole, so we'll continue to go out there and compete and do the best we can," he said. "We'll continue to plow forward, and hopefully we'll get some guys off the disabled list, but right now this is our rotation and this is what it will be."

And so what will Girardi tell Nuno on Friday?

"It's the same thing I would tell him any day: go get 'em and give us your best. That's all anyone can do."

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