More rotation question marks with Eovaldi out
The Yankees entered play Tuesday night merely a whisper out of first place in the American League East, but the medical reports continue to be unfavorable. Naturally at this time of year, plenty of players are banged up. Still, the Yankees are dealing with more of their share of injured players.
The latest to throw a monkey wrench in the division race is Nathan Eovaldi, the staff’s leading winner with a 14-3 record. An MRI revealed inflammation in the righthander’s pitching elbow. He has to be shut down for two weeks, which essentially means he is toast for the rest of the regular season.
Also hurting is left fielder Brett Gardner, who was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of a sore left shoulder which he crashed into a fence trying to make a catch in Saturday’s loss to the Rays.
Meanwhile, the prognosis on first baseman Mark Teixeira (right shinbone bruise) is not good. He received two more injections Tuesday. “The progress we expected to see we have not seen,” manager Joe Girardi said.
And Wednesday night, the Yankees’ starting pitcher will be CC Sabathia coming off the 15-day disabled list and wearing a new brace on his arthritic right knee.
Eovaldi’s injury creates a major hole in the rotation, which most likely will be filled by righthander Adam Warren, who began the season as a starter but has done a terrific job in relief. He had been expected to be a potent weapon out of the bullpen in the upcoming, four-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Blue Jays, whose lineup is laced with right-handed power hitters. It almost makes certain that Masahiro Tanaka, the scheduled starter for the Yankees Tuesday night, will go again Sunday on four days’ rest against Toronto, even though Girardi has preferred giving him an extra day between starts.
“I blame Eovaldi on myself,” Girardi said wearily, “because I used to say he is the one starter I didn’t worry about, and then this inflammation arose.”
Eovaldi said he felt fine during his start Saturday when he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings but uncomfortable after it. His chest felt tight, and there was soreness in his right elbow and shoulder. He did not play catch Sunday, his normal routine the day after a start, and told trainer Steve Donahue there was still pain in the elbow.
“I’m relieved that it is just inflammation and that everything is fine with the ligament,” Eovaldi said, “but the timing is bad.”
Is it ever? The Yankees have seven more games against the Blue Jays with their winningest pitcher unavailable for any of them.