Chris Stewart’s Yankee debut didn’t go s’good last night. He went 0-for-3 at the plate with a strikeout and was repeatedly crossed up by Phil Hughes, resulting in two passed balls. Fortunately, Chad Moeller cleared waivers and has been reinstated on the 25-man roster, forcing Stewart back to Scranton (and off the 40-man via a DFA, though the move hasn’t been announced yet). Meanwhile, Chris Britton, who was optioned yesterday, was recalled today following Ross Ohlendorf’s 3 1/3-inning outing last night (Alex Rodriguez hitting the DL allows the Yankees to skip the ten-day rule). Of course, Britton could be back on the Scranton shuttle after Ian Kennedy’s start tomorrow, as Wilson Betemit is now eligible to come off the DL just in time to fill the hole at his natural position of third base. Chad Jennings reports that Betemit is scheduled to join the Scranton team for a rehab assignment tomorrow.
Andy Pettitte will look to ease the strain on the pen tonight. In his last start he lasted just five innings against the Indians, turning in his worst outing of the year. The Tigers righty-heavy lineup would seem to be a bad match for Pettitte. Indeed, Andy’s been hell on lefties in the early going, but righties have been doing well against him. The thing is, that’s unusual. On his career, Pettitte has almost no platoon split at all and when he does have one it tends to be a reverse split. Andy pitched a gem in his only outing against Detroit last year (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R). I’d expect some bounce back tonight.
Opposing Andy will be Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman feels like he’s been around forever at this point–as the first-round high school draft pick that steeled Billy Beane’s resolve to draft college arms in the “Moneyball” draft, as a key player in the three-team Jeff Weaver/Ted Lilly/Carlos Peña trade, as a 19-game loser on the 113-loss 2003 Tigers team, and as a perennial breakout candidate who still hasn’t made that leap–but he’s still just 25. Bonderman improved steadily from 2003 to 2006, but last year he fell apart in conjunction with the Tigers’ second-half slide that I mentioned in my series preview (first 18 starts: 10-1, 3.53; last ten starts: 1-8 8.23). A sore elbow was the culprit, but he was shut down in early September and expected to make a full recovery over the winter. In the early going, however, he’s been maddeningly inconsistent, failing to turn in a single quality start in five outings and pitching inefficiently, with just 58 percent of his pitches going for strikes on the season. Bonderman struck out just ten men in his first four starts (22 2/3 innings) before striking out seven Rangers in 4 2/3 in his last start, but after walking 8 in his first 17 2/3 innings he’s now walked 13 in his last 9 2/3. It doesn’t bode well for Bonderman that the Yankees drew eight walks of his teammates last night. Also worth noting: while Bonderman has kept his ERA at a respectable 4.28, he has five unearned runs on his ledger already, giving him a 5.93 RA (run average).
Alberto Gonzalez starts in place of Morgan Ensberg at third base tonight. Melky “Got Homers” Cabrera moves up to the sixth spot, ahead of the struggling Robinson Cano, catcher Jose Molina, and Gonzalez.
Update: Stewart was optioned, but not designated for assignment. Rather, to make room for Moeller on the 40-man, Sean Henn, who had been pitching well on rehab assignment with Scranton, was DFAed. Chad Jennings has some reaction to the move.