By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Yankees will use their 12th different starting pitcher on Friday when Esmil Rogers takes the ball against Cleveland.
Two teams have used more that. The Colorado Rockies have run 14 starters out there, while the Texas Rangers have used 13. Those teams, though, have both lost a major league-worst 69 games and are a combined 45 games out of first place in their respective divisions.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are six games over .500 and just a half-game back of the second wild card in the American League.
Think about this for a second. Four of New York manager Joe Girardi’s five starting pitchers from the Opening Day roster are currently on the disabled list.
Take Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez away from the Detroit Tigers and where would they be? Heck, take four starters away from any team and chances are they wouldn’t be a half game out of a playoff spot.
Say what you want about Girardi, but if you can’t appreciate the job he is doing in the Bronx this season, well, you should probably consider something else to complain about because you are no longer qualified to be in this discussion.
Fifty-one players have made their way into the Yankees clubhouse this season, just five less than the franchise-record the team employed last season.
And, still, they are right in the hunt.
Now Girardi has caught a few breaks here along the way.
Castoffs Chris Capuano and Brandon McCarthy have both been terrific since being acquired in a pair of under-the-radar deals. And how about Shane Greene? He’s 3-1 after a magnificent eight-plus scoreless innings versus the Tigers on Thursday.
Brett Gardner is having a career year, shockingly developing into one of the game’s best all-around players. Plus the bullpen has been terrific, specifically the backend that is anchored by all-world setup man Dellin Betances and closer David Robertson.
There may have never been bigger shoes to fill than the ones Robertson had to step into this season, but he has done so flawlessly. The best compliment you can pay to Robertson is that you don’t even notice Mariano Rivera is gone.
And Betances? Well, the simple fact that his efforts this year are being compared to Rivera’s 1996 campaign might be the best thing you could ever say to another reliever.
If you don’t know how good he is, go watch the eighth inning of the Yankees’ win over Detroit on Tuesday when he struck out Miguel Cabrera with a 100 mph fastball. He is filthy.
Let’s face it Girardi is an easy target too. Everyone in New York is. Remember people used to knock Joe Torre too.
Most outsiders just assume it’s easy to manage the Yankees.
How hard is it put a lineup together when you have a $200-plus million payroll? Take a look at that Yankees roster, though. These are not your daddy’s Yankees.
Sure Derek Jeter is still there, but most nights Girardi has had to write down names like Brendan Ryan, Stephen Drew and Francisco Cervelli. And that’s not even including earlier in the year when Yangervis Solarte, Dean Anna and Zelous Wheeler were a big part of this team.
The fact that the Yankees are in the position they are given the lineup Girardi has had to put out there most nights should alone make him a candidate for a monument one day.
Another great complaint about Girardi that you hear on sports talk radio is that he manages too much by the “book.” Yes he does, but take a look around the league. Everyone does. Times are a changing people.
Managing with your gut is no longer a thing. The Tommy Lasordas and Sparky Andersons are a thing of the past. Today’s managers read over the reports given to them by their advanced stats guys, which every team now employs, and rarely do they make a move without referring to the “book.”
Girardi’s Yankees go into the weekend five games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East with a three-game series against them on tap next week. In fact, the Yankees still have 10 games remaining against the division leaders.
And help is on the way.
Righty Michael Pineda, who dazzled (pine tar or not) earlier in the year, is set to come off the disabled list next week in Baltimore and somehow Masahiro Tanaka could be back for a September run.
If the Yankees can continue to tread water until then and maybe pick up a piece here and there, they could make things interesting in that final month.
Either way, though, Girardi should get plenty of consideration for an AL Manager of the Year award.