Yankees: Four Ways Joe Girardi Has Hit All The High Notes

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

Where’s My Fifth Starter Coming From?

You might imagine that a conversation between Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi, perhaps with tongue-in-cheek, took place in which Girardi asks Cashman, “So, this is it? This is my starting staff?”  And without missing a beat, Cashman replies, “You got it, Joe. Deal with it.”

As so, with help coming from nowhere, Girardi looked around the Yankees camp and voiced to himself, Okay, this it. Now, deal with it. And he did.

And pretty much like the rest of us, he probably took Masahiro Tanaka for granted, especially while witnessing the spring his ace was having and he gave him no further thought except to name Tanaka as the Opening Day starter.

But then, things began to get a little murky. Girardi knew that the second half of the season that CC Sabathia had foretold of a real possibility that Sabathia had crossed the divide from being a power pitcher to a thinking man’s pitcher, but he couldn’t be sure and there were also the concerns that his aging star would fall prey to another knee injury.

And as Girardi moved further down the rotation, he had penciled in Michael Pineda and Luis Cessa. But both gave him the chills and microscopic confidence, especially with Pineda and his lights-out stuff but no results. Luis Severino was a possibility, but there again he wavered a bit picturing Severino as just a younger version of Pineda.

And beyond that, he breathed easier knowing that he wouldn’t need a fifth starter until the third week of the season, but who would that person be? Girardi could look at his roster and know that the natural choice would be to pencil in either Adam Warren or Bryan Mitchell, but what would that do for his plans in the bullpen?

Things loosened up a bit when Cessa pitched his way out of the discussion and was demoted to the minors, but it wasn’t until Girardi caught a glimpse of this tall left-hander that he began to form an idea that would change everything.

Girardi liked what he saw in the southpaw’s over the top downhill presence and command on the mound, but his first comments about Jordan Montgomery were guarded, saying only that he was “curious” about him and wanted to see more.

Montgomery gave both Girardi and the Yankees more every time he took the mound, sealing his fate when, along with Chad Green, he took apart a Detroit Tigers Class-A team, all the while making it look easy.

From there, Girardi didn’t hesitate. He not only named Montgomery as his fifth starter but he brought him up a week early to make a start at Yankee Stadium before the streak became a streak.

Put all together, Girardi has been masterful in putting the rotation together, and that says nothing about his usual abilities in using his bullpen with master strokes as well.

But it’s Girardi’s hunch on Montgomery that could have the most telling effect on the Yankees season over the long haul.