With the win (and sweep of the Royals) the Rays are suddenly on a hot streak. They’ll need the momentum as again the Rays are playing the Yankees and Red Sox back to back. The next six games will determine once and for all whether or not the Rays have a shot.
To get ready for the first series, I teamed up with Robert Bonanni from Yanks Go Yard. I asked six questions and here are his answers. Check out Yanks Go Yard for my answers to his Rays related questions.
Is there any New York panic over Mariano’s bad outings the in the last couple games?
Not really. Yankee fans still believe Mariano is great, but understand he is not as great as he was 10 years ago. He is still just as good or better than any other closer in the game. As for his recent struggles, the Red Sox have always had sucess against him and he made one bad pitch to Abreau.
It was an awful play. I thought I was watching the Mets. It was shocking to see a smart player like Granderson make such a stupid decision. First, you can’t get picked off. Second, why is he stealing to begin with? His defense was that he wanted to get into scoring position so a single would tie the game. My arguement is that Tex [Mark Teixeira] has just as good of a chance to hit a home run as he does a single in that situation. It was not worth the risk. I also blame Girardi for not giving him the red light in this situation.
I heard sometime last week that the Yankees’ starter ERA is the second best in the American League. Which starter has the been the biggest surprise to you so far?
Bartolo Colon. He missed all of last season and has been injured the past five years, yet has been their second best starter. He is also 38 and fat. He makes David Wells look like Vin Diesel. Everyone should be doing the stem cell stuff if it will bring about such great results. He looks more like the pitcher that won a Cy Young in 2005.
What changes if any do the Yankees plan to make to their rotation with the return of Ivan Nova and the struggles of A.J. Burnett? I see the Yankees have gone to a six-man rotation again for this series against the Rays. Do you like the current rotation?
I do not like the six-man rotation. C.C. Sabathia does not like it either so I believe Girardi will end it very soon. Burnett clearly should be out of the rotation, but the Yankees will never do that. His contract will keep him in it (At least for the regular season). Additionally, he is worthless to the Yankees in the bullpen. He at least provides them with innings as a starter. I have a strong feeling either Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes will be put in the bullpen. I would go with Hughes because he has proven that he can be very good coming out of the pen.
Do you think Colon and Garcia can hold up through the end of the year?
I honestly do not know and I don’t think the Yankees know either. If I had to choose one, I would go with Garcia. He is four years younger and pitched a full season last year. I do think Colon is more important because he has more of an upside than Garcia, and will be the more effective pitcher in the postseason.
If the Yankees and the Red Sox are tied or close to tied coming into the final week of the season, which do you think would be more important for the Yankees: setting up their postseason rotation or gaining home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs and particularly against Boston?
The Yankees do not care about winning the division and will not go out of their way to do it. They proved that last season when they did not make a push for the division title and settled for the wild card in order to get their rotation in order. In my opinion the only pitcher they need to worry about getting ready is CC. They need to make sure he is ready to pitch games one and five in their first round series. The rest of the starters are pretty much interchangeable. I do think home field is important for them considering they are such a dominant team at Yankee Stadium, so I would like to see them go for the division. They can survive not having home field in the first round, but need it against the Red Sox. The last thing a Yankee fan wants to see is a game six and seven in Fenway.