CHICAGO — What Yankees manager Joe Girardi called a “need” prompted him to put Nathan Eovaldi in the bullpen for Monday afternoon’s game against the White Sox.
“I envision Nathan as a starter,” Girardi said late Monday morning. “This is not something we’re saying is long term.”
But in announcing that rookie Chad Green will start Friday in Cleveland, that means Eovaldi won’t get another start before the All-Star break.
And if Green, who was terrific Sunday against the Padres, is good again?
“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves,” Girardi said. “We did this mostly out of need. [Andrew] Miller and [Dellin] Betances, I don’t have them today.”
And although he said he would have leaned toward starting Eovaldi on Friday if two-thirds of his bullpen stalwarts hadn’t been used so much over the weekend, it seemed equally clear that Eovaldi will have to earn his way back into the rotation.
Especially if Green comes close to duplicating what he did Sunday in San Diego, when he allowed one run and three hits in six innings, striking out eight.
Eovaldi is 6-6 with a 5.54 ERA, including 0-4 with a 9.20 ERA in his last six starts. “He’s struggled a little bit,’’ Girardi said. “We figured let’s do it and see if we can get him straightened out down there for right now.”
Girardi said Green’s start against the Padres, the second of his big-league career after a not-so-good one in his initial outing May 16 against Arizona, “played into” the decision.
“But I’m not going to make too much of one performance,’’ Girardi said. “I think Chad can help us too, I do. He threw the ball excellent. And what he did was he knew what he needed to go work on [in the minors]. He went and worked on it, he figured it out and he came up and threw really well [Sunday]. And Nathan’s struggled for this month. We’re trying to get him straightened out and we figured let’s get him straightened out down there for now.”
Girardi said Eovaldi could slide into a middle-innings role, one the Yankees have struggled to adequately fill all season. It’s a role in which Adam Warren performed well most of 2015.
“He might be the guy that kind of helps us bridge things until we get past the break and then we’ll make some decisions,” Girardi said. “I think it’s really important. It’s a role I think is underappreciated and is not talked a lot about, but that’s an important role.”
Eovaldi said he will be disappointed if he remains in the bullpen on a long-term basis, but he didn’t complain.
“I started as a starter, I want to finish as a starter,” he said. “I see myself as a starter, so I’m not seeing it as that [a permanent switch to reliever] right now. I’m here to help the team and we’re short on guys and I’m ready.”