By Jon Lane
Most teams would love to have the Yankees’ biggest problem at the moment: the need for someone to emerge as the fifth starter. The job description is simple, provide at least five quality, at-worst average innings while keeping the team in the game. In the Yankees’ case, they have Joba Chamberlain’s innings limit to manage and with a big enough division lead would like to provide CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte extra days off any way they can.
Joe Girardi, partly out of loyalty to what he saw from Sergio Mitre in Florday and fairness since Mitre is not far removed from Tommy John surgery, is giving the embattled right-hander one more opportunity to hold onto his spot tonight when he starts against the Blue Jays (YES HD, 7 p.m.). Mitre’s ERA is an ungodly 7.50 and he’s allowed 32 hits over 18 innings; it was no coincidence that Girardi rearranged his rotation so that Mitre did not face the Red Sox.
If Mitre bombs again tonight – or even if he simply does not pitch well – he may lose his spot to new Yankee Chad Gaudin. Once a Rays top prospect, Gaudin has played for four other teams and is 32-35 with a 4.58 ERA for his career. At times he’s been really, really good, or good and terrible.
If Gaudin is a bust, there are Bargain Bin options available at Triple-A.
? Russ Ortiz was signed last week and threw six scoreless innings on Thursday, but he’s 35 and was 3-6 with a 5.57 ERA for the Astros. In 12 seasons playing for six teams, Ortiz is 113-88 with a 4.88 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2008 season. His best year came in 2003 (21-7, 3.81 ERA).
? Jason Hirsh was acquired from Colorado last month for a player to be named later. He’s last appeared in a Major League game in September 2008.
? Then there’s Josh Towers, another veteran who was called up on Saturday to fortify a depleted bullpen and designated for assignment the next day to make room for Gaudin. He’s hoping to clear waivers to return to Scranton and get another shot with the Yankees.
This shows you how far down the pecking order Kei Igawa has fallen, doesn’t it?