Will Nuno get another start?

June, 15, 2014
Jun 15
10:04
PM ET


OAKLAND -- The answer to the above question is probably, and probably even definitely.

But should he get another start? That is another question entirely, and the answer is probably not.

However, what New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the other day -- "This is our rotation at least through the All-Star break" -- remains the truth, for a very simple reason: Right now, there simply is no one to replace him with.

Nuno got crushed Sunday afternoon by the Oakland Athletics, allowing a pair of three-run homers to Derek Norris and Coco Crisp that put the Yankees into a 6-0 hole and took them out of the game before it was even two innings old.

Before he had even gotten six outs, all the items on the plus side of Nuno's ledger -- his excellent record on the road, his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark away from Yankee Stadium, his knack for getting strikeouts in key situations -- went out the window.

Already a liability at home, where he is 0-3 with a 5.55 ERA and has allowed 10 home runs in seven starts, it is now going to be very difficult to trust Nuno on the road, too.

You could tell he had pretty much lost Girardi's trust when the manager himself headed out to the mound in the second inning to do what he generally sends pitching coach Larry Rothschild out to do: Namely, to order his pitcher to pitch better.

[+] EnlargeNuno
AP Photo/Ben MargotCarlos Beltran experienced highs and lows in Oakland.
Girardi was clearly disgusted with Nuno at that point, and clearly remained so after the game, because when he was asked why he felt it necessary to deliver the message in person -- he usually only visits the mound to take the baseball -- Girardi practically bit off the words to his answer.

"There was something I wanted to talk about," he said, "so I went."

When Nuno was asked what Girardi said to him, his answer was a jumble of mixed tenses, messages and metaphors.

"He was talking mechanical mostly," Nuno said. "Bringing out what’s going on and stuff like that. Just trying to make pitches. It’s all about making adjustments and just trying to stay positive and just learn from this and just move on and get after it tomorrow."

Obviously, Nuno either couldn't remember what the manager said, didn't quite understand it, or saw fit not to repeat it on live television.

But the fact was, he was on a short leash, and deservedly so. And even though he pitched a 1-2-3 third inning, after he opened the fourth by allowing a single to Kyle Blanks and walked Nick Punto, Girardi had seen enough and went to Jose Ramirez, who only made things worse.

As a result, the Yankees went through five pitchers on this day, which pointed out another of Nuno's glaring weaknesses: his tendency to throw a lot of pitches without getting a lot of outs or completing a lot of innings. In fairness, this was his shortest outing of the year -- three innings plus two batters, eight hits, eight earned runs -- but in his 10 starts since being inserted into the rotation due to the injuries to Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, has averaged just slightly more than five innings per start and only four times has gotten as far as the sixth.

Still, when Girardi was asked directly if he would continue to use Nuno as a starter, his answer told the whole story.

"Well, we haven't made any changes," he said, leaving off the missing last word: yet.

And then he added, "We've just gotta find a way to get it done."

Meaning, probably, with Nuno in the rotation.

Really, what choice does he have?

There's nothing down in Scranton ready to make the step up to the big leagues. Shane Greene, whom the Yankees have high hopes for and was up for one game in April, is currently 3-2 with a 6.17 ERA in Triple-A. Brian Gordon is 4-6 with a 4.75 ERA, Bruce Billings is 4-2 with a 4.89 ERA, and Zach Nuding is 2-4 with a 6.25 ERA. Joel de la Cruz, who is 2-4 with a 3.57 ERA, started the season in Double-A and has only 40 innings of Triple-A experience.

All of them would be a stopgap at best, which is what Nuno already is.

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And the trade market doesn't appear much better. The Cubs could be looking to move Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, but the Yankees will not be the only teams interested, and quite frankly, they don't have a whole lot to offer in return. The Phillies might be looking to shed Cole Hamels, but is it really a good idea for the Yankees to take on another pitcher who has four-plus years to go on his contract worth more than $90 million?

Besides, no one is trading pitchers in the middle of June, and any deal for a live arm is still probably a month to six weeks away. That means that what Girardi said two days ago remains true, no matter how much the Yankees and their fans would like it to change.

The rotation they have now is the one they are going to have for the foreseeable future.

And that includes Nuno.

QUESTION: Do you think Vidal Nuno should get another start?

Beltran not amused: Girardi called it "an embarrassing play," and for a player with the resume of a Carlos Beltran, there really is no excuse for not knowing how many outs there are, even in a game your team is trailing by seven runs. Beltran became the second out of a bizarre double play, and the last out of the eighth inning, when he "abandoned" first base after hitting into a forceout.

What happened was that Beltran thought he had already ended the inning when Jed Lowrie made a diving stop on his grounder and flipped to second to force out Brian McCann, so he peeled off and headed to the Yankees' dugout. Oakland 2B Nick Punto alertly threw the ball to first, where umpire Dan Iassogna called Beltran out.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Beltran
Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesCarlos Beltran experienced highs and lows in Oakland.
Asked what happened in the clubhouse, a stone-faced Beltran said, "I thought there were two outs."

Awkward pause.

"Did anyone yell at you from the dugout?"

"Yeah. It was too late."

Even longer and more awkward pause.

"Anything like this ever happen before?"

"No."

Oh-kay, then. Moving on to happier topics, Beltran was asked about his productive day at the plate, in which he singled and hit a solo home run, his first since April 22, in the seventh.

"I feel good," he said. "I feel rhythm at the plate. It was positive the way I feel. I hit the ball hard every at-bat, so hopefully I can build from that."

Was this the best he had felt since coming off the disabled list?

"Yes," he said. "Today was the best day I ever felt."

Except, of course, for that moment that he clearly did not want to talk about.

Tex rebounds: A day after sitting out because of what was apparently a spasm in the left side of his upper back, Mark Teixeira was in the lineup Sunday, and even had an RBI double that drove in the Yankees' first run of the game in the sixth inning. Girardi pulled him after seven, but only because of the lopsidedness of the score.

“I'm very happy," Teixeira said. "Joe and [trainer Steve Donohue] were a little afraid I might have pulled something, but I knew it was just a spasm and it just needed to calm down. It responded to treatment and to a good night’s sleep, and felt pretty good today.”
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146