Although the Yankees have gotten a surprisingly strong season out of CC Sabathia and a return to ace-like pitching from Masahiro Tanaka, the backend of their rotation has been kind of awful. Ivan Nova stepped into the rotation out of necessity, and he managed to perform decently for a few starts. However, the wheels have completely fallen off as of late. Over his last six starts, Nova owns a 6.88 ERA and has allowed a .319/.369/.563 batting line to opposing hitters. He has been the fifth-worst starter in all of baseball over the last 30 days.
Of course, the Yankees also have the struggling Michael Pineda to contend with. He strung together a few decent starts that kept him from being sent to Triple-A as the deadline approached for the Yankees to send him down without his permission. His outing on May 28th against the Rays was his last true clunker of a start, but allowing three runs to the league-worst Twins in a 5.1 inning start his last time out is certainly the opposite of good. He would have the worst ERA among qualified pitchers if it weren’t for the disastrous season James Shields is having.
So what’s Joe Girardi to do? He has made it very clear in his comments to the media that Luis Severino isn’t an option right now. Although Severino is healthy at Triple-A, the team hasn’t liked what they’ve seen from him beyond his raw numbers. His location, which was a problem at the big league level, still seems to be causing problems. Girardi previously expressed concern about Luis Cessa’s velocity if he was moved from the bullpen to the rotation, regardless of how valid or invalid that may be.
The team does have one option they can turn to, though. Chad Green is having a fantastic season for the Triple-A RailRiders. He has pitched back-to-back starts of seven innings in which he allowed three runs in the first game and none in the second. His season ERA with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is at 1.67, and he just struck out 11 batters in his start on June 16th.
Green did get a chance with the Yankees earlier this season, starting one game out in Arizona that didn’t go especially well. His success at Triple-A makes him worthy of consideration with multiple big league starters struggling. If the worst case scenario is that you send Nova to the bullpen for a few weeks in order to give Green a couple starts, it doesn’t seem like anything would really be lost. If he gets a chance to prove himself beyond just one start and still isn’t any better than the current options, he can always be sent back down to Triple-A.
The Yankees are running out of creative solutions to save their season and it’s only June. Brian Cashman and company have to make decisions about whether the team has the ability to truly compete for a spot in the postseason over the next five weeks, hoping that they find a way to climb out of the .500 bubble they seem unable to shake. Green likely won’t be any kind of savior for that problem, but incremental upgrades should be considered.
In an ideal world, the Yankees would have an answer for both Nova and Pineda in the rotation. That just isn’t the case right now. However, they do have a prospect who is pitching almost as well as you can at Triple-A, and they have very little to lose at this point. Giving Green a chance makes the most sense for a team who hasn’t found a whole lot of answers to their problems all season. Simply sticking with what has obviously not been successful isn’t working, so why not try something new?